Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The home waterbirth of Christian Gabriel

The home waterbirth of Christian Gabriel, November 19th, 2010.

This labor was very similar in many ways to my last. It started the same with the early labor contractions all night, then a break before the real thing, and was exactly the same length. 4 hours active labor. Yet it was also different in many ways, especially emotionally. I'm still trying to grasp all the emotional changes that took place during this pregnancy and birth. It's been 40 weeks of personal growth for sure. An excercise in trust, in learning to follow my heart, to identify my needs and to honor that still small voice within; culminating in a change of care providers at 35 weeks gestation. This was a very weighty decision on my part. I decided to leave the longterm care of my primary midwife and instead seek out the midwife who delivered Isla, who had since branched out into her own practice. I felt like this new practice was a better fit for me in the midst of some changes going on with my current care providers. I knew that they could guarantee me my home delivery and the kind of watchful yet hands off care I felt I was needing for this birth. That decision turned out to be absolutely for the best, but it did add to the emotion of the process for me. Much of my pregnancy was spent with this under current of emotional unrest as I considered my birthing day, and I sought out the advice of some very wise women along the way who helped me to uncover what my body and my baby were trying to tell me. I knew the change needed to be made and when I switched care providers, I finally felt at peace about my birth. We had several weeks of wonderful home visits before my due date, and I was completely confident that I would have another great experience when our son decided to enter the world. I was very much looking forward to my birthing day!
The Prelude
I had an exam two days before I was due, I was still 1.5 cm dilated and only like 30% effaced… things were soft but pretty much no progress. That is pretty typical for me. I was expecting to go a few days overdue. My mom's birthday was the 21st of November, and it was also a full moon, so I was thinking he might wait until then. So I was surprised when I started contracting Thursday evening, the 18th, around 10 PM.
I had contractions off and on through the night Thursday night, 5-7 minutes apart. I didn't sleep much at all, but they weren‘t anything that I could call labor. I tried to snooze between them but it was hard. I moved between my bed and the futon we had set up in the family room, next to the birthing tub. I had loose stools and several episodes of the shakes. I checked my cervix around 5 AM when I noticed some bloody show, I was about 3cm dilated and a lot more effaced, I guessed 75%. And I could feel baby's head, much lower than it had been. I knew then that it wouldn’t be much longer til labor, and it was my due date! I predicted I’d have the baby that night.
By morning I was really wishing they would just stop so I could get some sleep. I knew once I got good rest that I’d probably go into actual labor. I got up and made some breakfast, and once the girls woke up we had Jay's mom come get them so we could get some rest. The contractions spaced out again to like 15 minutes apart, and I laid down for a nap.
I got a few hours of sleep, then got up and had a shower and we went to Target for last minute supplies, and so I could walk and try to distract myself from the early labor. The contractions were still spaced far apart, but they were getting more intense. We went through the car wash and then came home, I had my midwife Peggy come check me around 4:00. I was now 4cm dilated and 85% effaced... contractions still around 10 minutes apart, not really regular. I figured like with Isla’s labor, it would start up once it got dark out. Peggy set up all her supplies for the birth, then went home to get some dinner and told us to call when we needed her.

I thought I wanted to watch a funny movie, so we put in Date Night, but I wasn‘t feeling it. I started to get really anxious and emotional so Jay turned the movie off. I needed to focus and figure out what was going on with me. I had a meltdown and cried hysterically for about a half hour ... I guess I need to clean house emotionally. I had a lot of tension that needed to go, and I needed to get my head into the right place for labor. I realized I was really afraid. Of what I’m not sure… afraid that it would be really hard, or really painful, or take a long time, it seemed like a really overwhelming prospect. Having my THIRD baby. I had such a great and easy labor last time, could I possibly be so lucky as to have another perfect birth and baby? Did I deserve to want another wonderful birth? Was I ready to have three kids? Labor is hard work! Lots of emotions. I decided I needed to start being thankful and embrace this labor, even though at this point I was thinking I really didn’t want to do it! This seems to be a theme with me, I always go through a really intense moment of “Let’s wait and do this later!" But once I accept the inevitable, things start to happen. I needed to get into a positive birthing mindset. I needed to remembery why I had to go through this process again... that I wanted a baby, my little boy who I prayed and longed for, and he was ready to meet me! I turned on some worship music and lit the candles and got quiet for a while. I told the baby it was ok, he could come out, and I was willing to birth him. No matter how much I was dreading the unknown, remembering the intensity of the process, I was willing to see what was in store. I held on to my husband and cried like a baby and he held me and I’m sure I blubbered like an idiot, he’s a champ for not laughing at me. Then I dried my tears and we went into the bedroom to look at the baby clothes while I started timing contractions.
The contractions started coming closer together about 5:30 PM, and I asked Jay to call my mom. I was ready for some company. She showed up right at 6 PM... I took some last minute belly pictures and then decided to get into the bathtub. I didn’t stay there long. The contractions were a good steady 4 minutes apart, lasting about a minute and a half. I called my midwife Peggy to come back. I think she got there around 7, I was a good 6cm dilated and progressing quickly. Labor was still very easy and manageable, and I was SO encouraged that I was making good quick progress.
Active Labor
Like Isla’s labor, I did not want to sit or lay down at all and I felt much better while walking. I walked and paced, swayed during contractions, walked and paced some more. I just relaxed into them, pictured my cervix opening easily and breathed through them slowly and deeply. I was still in good humor and making small talk between the waves.
Once I realized I was really in active labor, I asked Jay to fill the birth tub. Judging from my last labor, I figured once I got to 7cm, things would be fast from there. So we called his mom to bring the girls back. The apprentice midwife Breanne and the second midwife Jackie (who was there by my special request, she delivered Isla, along with Peggy) showed up not long after. Also there to see the birth was my Aunt Sarah and my 14 year old cousin Heidi.
Once the birth tub was full, I got into the water and really started into deep relaxation, leaning over the edge of the tub. The gravity and emotion of the moment just hit me… I was there in my own home, having a beautiful peaceful labor, about to birth my son gently into the water, I felt so blessed and it was intensely spiritual. I still had my worship music on, it was Hillsong United on shuffle, and it absolutely amazed me how each song that played came on at exactly the right time for the part of labor I was in. I heard the perfect words right at the moment I needed them on several different occaisions. I sang along and hummed with my eyes closed, and at one point I cried some more, but not from anything other than good loving emotion. I knew God was with me at every moment as I worked to bring my baby into the world. It was really sweet and I felt so safe and protected and able to be vulnerable. I was relaxing very thoroughly, with each contraction I would think to myself “I am perfectly designed to birth my baby. This pressure is not painful, it’s just me opening for my son to come out." And a warmth and peace would just envelop me as I relaxed into it. It was very enjoyable and I lapsed into labor land for a while.
After some time in the tub, I was expecting transition would happen at any time, but instead the contractions started to space way out again. I started really weighing having my water broken. On one hand, I wanted no interventions at all. Period. On the other hand, I knew that with my water intact, it could prolong my labor quite a bit (judging from my last two labors, one with intact water and one with it broken). So I was trying to weigh the pros and cons. Pro- get the labor over a lot faster but risk a big increase in intensity. Con- have a milder (pretty much painless) labor but a prolonged transitional stage with the intact water holding his head up. I decided to get out of the tub and walk some more, take a shower to utilize gravity, and see if I progressed into transition or at least made good progress with the water intact. At this point as he started to get lower, I could feel what I assume was his shoulder stuck right above my pubic bone on the left… it was a very sharp sharp pain at the peak of contractions that did not disappear between them. It was just there. Getting more and more like a hot knife. The contractions were much harder to relax through with that kind of a sharpness distracting me. I thought walking might help to shift him. I got in the shower and labored through a few contractions doing lunges, one leg up, then the other. Still there. I circled my hips like a hula dancer, I rocked in the chair on my knees… I was starting to feel desperate to move it, ready to be done. After about an hour, I got back into the birth tub and asked to be checked. I had thinned out a bit more, but had made little progress in dilation. I was still between 7 and 8cm dilated. Once I realized that the shoulder pain wasn't going away until the baby came out, and was going to have to get worse before it got better, I decided not to prolong the inevitable. I tried a few position changes in the tub and then asked to have my water broken. I just wanted it over with.

Once my waters released, I moved back to my hands and knees, leaning over the edge of the tub, and true to form, the next contraction was definitely more intense. I started to need to vocalize some of the pressure. Transition was at hand. I was a lot more emotional with this labor, it was definitely my hardest transition so far from an emotional standpoint. I was suddenly very adamant that I did NOT want to do this anymore. Not that I couldn't, but that I was no longer willing. Period. I didn't want to have a baby. I felt so whiny and helpless and desperate for it to stop, and I cried a bit. I guess it was just a crying-ish sort of labor! I knew this was almost over, but I was really fighting it mentally. My mom was right there encouraging me and talking me through it, I remember saying “Is it bad that I don’t want to have my own baby?“ They reassured me that whatever I was feeling was ok. It was just an emotion, it would pass. Peggy gave me a homeopathic remedy of some kind to help calm me, and said a beautiful little prayer that I would have peace and strength and birth my son quickly.

With the next contraction, I just had to surrender and do whatever my body felt, no more being in control. I had to get his shoulders through my pelvis despite that sharp pain. And I could clearly feel his little hands clawing at my cervix, right at the peaks of contractions, it was overwhelming and I wished he would move them. One contraction I squatted down, one I raised up on my knees, at one point I threw a desperate little tantrum, laid out flat on my belly holding the edge of the tub and kicked my legs like a frog and threw my hips from side to side saying OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN OPEN!!! I was so thankful for the support of the water, and the ability to really move my body easily. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to get through those few hard contractions without being able to really move, and quickly! The bouyancy of the water was invaluable. And then I started to feel a little pushy. Right at the end of the contraction. I tried holding my breath and pushing with it just a bit, as I couldn’t help it, and it felt really nice to just bear down. I put my hand down to feel for his head and realized I still had like a centimeter of cervix left in the front. But I still needed to push. I had my hand right there feeling his wrinkly head, so with the next contraction I got up on one knee and used my finger to massage the edge of cervix away. I wanted him OUT! As I massaged it, it disappeared and his head began to crown.
As his head becan to come I realized nobody had informed the people upstairs. I looked at my mom and said through the incredible urge to push, "You might.... want.... to get.... them!"
And someone ran to get the in-laws and Addie and Isla and Heidi from upstairs. As they came down the stairs his head was born, I was panting to keep from pushing too hard because it was coming fast and I wanted to give myself time to stretch. Then his head was out all the way, and I could clearly feel as his shoulder turned. Then I had to really PUSH that top shoulder through there, the one that was hurting me. He has broad little shoulders! It was only like two contractions, if that, of actual pushing... and he was born right into my hands! I lifted him out of the water at 10:01 PM. Nobody else touched him at all except Breanne, to feel for a cord quick after his head was out. There are just no words to express the instant euphoria! So much relief, passion, ecstasy, joy… giving birth is absolutely incredible! He wasn’t that eager to cry, he was breathing fine but was not too angry at the world, so it took a little back patting to clear his lungs all the way, but he had great color and just snuggled up on my chest. My little buddy! My girls and the rest of the family peered over the edge of the tub to meet him, they were totally in awe!
"Baby tummy, coming OUT!" said my two year old excitedly.
"I really like that baby brother!" grinned my four year old. I feel so blessed to have been able to share that moment with them. They were so pleased!

His placenta followed pretty quickly and my water got bloody so I got out of the water sooner than I did with the girls. His placenta was fairly small and heart shaped, and some of the amnion was grown up the cord, which was odd. We got the cord clamped and cut and handed Christian to daddy as I got out of the tub and tucked in, and then he came back to me to snuggle under the blankets and have nummies. He latched on right away and is a great nurser, he's a strong little guy with a good suck and he's pretty much been on my boob ever since!

He was so alert and bright eyed, checking everything out, he was awake and nursing and looking around for a good three hours before he fell asleep the first time. He got his newborn exam after an hour or so and was 8lb. 3oz. (same size as Addison) and 20 1/2 inches long. 13 1/2 inch head, 14 inch chest.
He is very happy and content, likes to be swaddled and snuggled, and tries to suck on anything he can reach. Hands, blanket, arm, whatever. I knew from the pregnancy that he likes his hands in his face, I won’t be surprised if he’s a thumb sucker.

Overall it was such a great birth! I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Transition was little more intense than I hoped for at the end, but hey, what can you do? I did what needed to be done and he came out without much trouble, so I feel very blessed. All the people I love were there with me, I had the midwives I wanted, I was calm and peaceful and in control yet free to be vulnerable and to feel my emotions, everyone was wonderful support and it was such a great experience!

I'm now four days post partum and feeling wonderful! I had no tearing at all despite the shoulder, and my recovery has been a breeze. I was really pleased to find that my bottom feels as though I never had a baby at all! I got up to go pee about two hours after he was born and I was like,
"Hey, this feels normal." It felt just like it did that morning. It's been really nice!
We’ve spent the last four days just hanging out at home, having visitors, my mom has been wonderful and has come to cook and clean and take care of the house each day so I can just enjoy my snuggly boy. My husband Jay has been amazing taking care of the girls for me and I feel very lucky to be able to relax and just enjoy this time. Christian is doing well, had a little bit of gassiness the second and third day but is a much happier camper now that my milk is all the way in and he can munch to his hearts content. The girls are doing great, adjusting really well to the new baby and seem to love him very much. They both want to hold him a lot and are busy fetching all his little supplies for me. We are so happy he’s here and so thankful for another wonderful birth experience! I could not ask for more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The birth of Isla Elizabeth, our second daughter

November 13th 2008 at 11:40 PM I gave birth to our second daughter, Isla Elizabeth. She was born at home in our family room. Once labor actually started it was only about 4 hours start to finish ! She weighed 7lb 4oz and was 21 inches long. For those unfamiliar with her name, it is pronounced EYE-la, (like Island, the S is silent) and is of Scottish origin. Her middle name is after my auntie. Here is her story.

Things started off slowly this time. I was 40weeks and3 days pregnant and was ready to be done. After spending the evening walking with my daughter Addison on my mom's treadmill, I had about 24 hours of pre-labor contractions... not super painful or anything but not effective and never closer than about 6 minutes apart. They produced some bloody show, and I was very excited! I thought that I would have a baby for sure by morning.

They were bad enough that I couldnt sleep through them and they came every 6-8 minutes all night long! I spent the night in and out of bed, bouncing on my birthing ball and talking on the phone with my midwife. But they never got any closer together. Talk about discouraged! I was tired, and I couldn't sleep. By morning I was discouraged and exhausted from lack of sleep, and they had kind of petered out and were coming more like every 10-15 minutes. They were still pretty pinchy and painful. I could not help but feel like her head was not in the right position, and was just jamming ineffectively into my pelvic bones. By this time I was praying they would stop so I could just have some rest.
I finallydrifted off to sleep and had a two hour nap with no contractions to speak of. The sleep was nice, but I was still dissapointed.

I had a midwife appointment at 1:00 PM and was encouraged to find that all those obnoxious contractions were actually doing something after all, I was 3cm dilated and 90% effaced! (the day before I was only 2cm and 40%) They stripped my membranes again and sent me on my way, reassuring me that when things did finally decide to kick into gear it would most likely go very quickly. I left the midwife in much better spirits.

On the way home we went to Fred Meyer for some groceries, and on the way out the door I had a really nice strong contraction that I had to breathe through. We grabbed our last minute provisions and headed home for our home birth!

Once we got home we put in a movie and I laid on the couch and we waited for things to pick up. Once again, the contractions were a stinging, sharp pain in my pubic bone and I just wanted to cry. This was not how labor should be. I could not relax through this kind of pain! I couldn't work with it! I just wanted it to be over already.

Jay tried to cheer me up, and he told me he was betting we'd have a baby before midnight. I thought to myself, "yeah... right." I wasn't even in labor yet, and midnight was only 7 hours away!

It has been my experience that just when you resign yourself to the fact that your baby is NOT on it's way, it mysteriously decides to come out! I think I will try to be determined of this fact much earlier with the next baby. *giggle*

I was in the bathtub when my mom arrived, and Jay was sitting next to me writing down my contractions on a peice of paper. They were still pretty irregular, but were coming between 5 and 7 minutes apart. They were still rather pinchy and just did not feel effective to me. They had a strange quality to them, and I still wondered if Isla's head was in the proper position. We discussed it and decided that I should get out of the tub, that maybe the warm water was slowing things down. My mom suggested that we go find something to distract ourselves, so we sent Jay to Walmart to buy a game of Scrabble to keep our mind off of things and wait for the hard contractions!

I was still downstairs in our family room, and my mom had gone upstairs when my cellphone rang in the pocket of my bathrobe. It was Jay, and he wanted to talk to my mom. Unbeknownst to me, he was going to tell her to call the midwife and see if they would come check on me. He thought I would be encouraged if they were there. I didnt want to call yet, because I was still thinking this just might be another false alarm.
I jogged up the stairs to give the phone to my mom, and I felt the baby shift in my pelvis. The next contraction when I got to the top of the stairs immediately felt different. Like labor. No longer pinchy, and I recognized the feeling from Addison's birth. YAY! She had finally tucked her chin, and we were ready to rock and roll! I was much encouraged at that point, and we called the midwife to come check on me in a little while.

Months later, I happened upon an article on fetal positioning, discussing techniques to get a baby to tuck it's head for a better delivery position. One of the suggestions was walking up the stairs! I am so glad Jay called when he did.


Almost immediately, about 7:30 PM my contractions started to come closer together. I think Peggy and Jackie (my midwives) showed up sometime around 8:30 and we started getting stuff set up for the birth. Peggy checked me once things were set up and found I was 5cm dilated! I was surprised because my contractions were not nearly as intense as my labor with Addison, and they didnt last very long... only about a minute each. I just did my best to relax through them and allow them to do their job. They were still mild enough I never needed to make any noise through them, just breathing was enough. I was totally alert, and still my normal self between contractions.

They felt much better when I walked through them, so I stayed upright through the whole thing, just pacing and walking and taking breaks between them to play my Scrabble turn! Which I won, by the way!

My sister Rosanna, Jay's mom Christy and our two year old daughter Addison (She was at Grandma's for the afternoon so I could try to get some rest) showed up around 9:00 PM and we all got to talking and laughing. I was surprised that I was still up and around and talking during contractions even during active labor! I got kind of tired of walking around 10:00 and got into the shower. I spent each contractions rotating my hips in circles to help the baby move down better.

While I was in the shower, Jay came into the bathroom and peeked around the shower curtain at me. "We're going to have a baby!" he said, huge grin on his face. He was so darn cute, I couldn't resist. So I kissed him. And I kissed him. And kissed him some more. Just the two of us, laboring for our baby in our own bathroom, all alone. It was very intimate, and arousing, and passionate and dare I say it, sexy! The slow warmth spreading through my belly helped SO much to relieve the intensity of my contractions. This is my favorite memory from Isla's labor, and a pain releif technique I intend to try again!

I stayed there for maybe 20 minutes and then I didnt want to waste any more hot water so I got out and walked around some more while they got the birthing tub filled the rest of the way up and at a good temperature. I grabbed my makeup bag, and went into the bathroom and applied some concealer, and bronzer, and brushed my hair. My mom laughed at me! She said she'd never seen anybody worried about their looks at that point of labor. When the tub was ready I climbed in and felt SO much releif as I could totally float in any position I wanted to without putting pressure on anything. It made relaxing during contractions so much easier and I really felt like we were making progress.
But the warm water slowed my contractions way down again to about five minutes apart. At this point, my grandma showed up so she could see the birth and she joined the family upstairs waiting.

I got a good case of the giggles then, and for some reason had the song from Mulan stuck in my head,
"Let's get down to business, to defeat the Huns. Dare they send me daughters when I asked for sons?" I'm not sure why it struck me so funny, maybe because I was having my second girl? I was in the middle of a contraction, chuckling away in the tub. Although I was reluctant to laugh at first, thinking the pressure of the laughter would make the contraction hurt worse, I found that every time I giggled it reduced the pain by at least half!
I guess it's true what Ina May says, you can't have a tight cervix and a laughing mouth at the same time. I was amazed to find that the more humor I felt, the less pain was involved, even during hard labor. So I enjoyed my time in the tub, talking with my sister about her pooping in the tub when we were kids, and I ate some chicken noodle soup in between contractions.

I did not want to be checked again for a while, because my contractions were still relatively mild, and now spaced far enough apart I was worried that I would still be at 5cm, and I didnt want to be discouraged. But after another few contractions my curiosity got the better of me and I asked for a cervical check. I thought it would be good to know, so I could change activities if I wasn't progressing.

Jackie checked me and determined I was 6 cm, stretchable to 7 and there was a protruding bag of water that was keeping Isla's head from really applying as well as it could have been. So we discussed it and decided to break my water. That immediately made my next contraction much stronger, and I remembered that "birth is imminent" feeling from last time, the one that you cant help but moan... ok moo like a cow through!
I found that again, as in my labor with Addison, keeping mind over matter and willing myself to relax through the contraction, welcome the sensation, allow it to be there and do it's work was the hardest part of labor.
I remember at one point at the peak of a contraction saying "Open open open open open"... over and over again. It was important somehow to tell my body I WANTED to open.


I started getting emotional at that point and just wanted to cry as I though of transition... remembering back to my first labor, I was assuming it would still be at LEAST an hour or maybe two of the real intense labor before she would be born and I was a little overwhelmed thinking about it. Although I should have guessed by my emotional response, I had no idea how far along I really was!

I flipped over and rested over the edge of the tub on my knees. My mom came to sit with me, and held my hands as I dealt with my emotions.
"You're almost done,you are doing perfectly! You are making this look easy. It will be over in just a few minutes." She whispered as I fought back tears.
The tears were not from the pain, just the emotion of transition. My body was getting ready to birth.

The contractions were still spaced way far apart and I had three of the really intense ones before I started to feel pushy right at the end of the contraction! I only had three hard contractions in between my rupture of membranes and when I started to push. Three hard contractions, my whole entire labor! I could NOT beleive it!

"I'm pushing! WHY?" I breathed, confused, thinking it must be another premature urge like I had with Addison. But my amniotic sac was no longer intact, so it was impossible to have a bulging bag of water... Then I felt her head slide down into my birth canal.

"It burns!" I gasped. Jackie leaned toward the tub, as Peggy walked around back to see if she could spot a head. "Put your hand down there Sharon" Jackie instructed. "No!" I said, in a state of confusion, "She's not crowning yet! I dont think..." I was thinking how impossible it was that I was really pushing out my baby, when only minutes before I had only been 6cm dilated.

"Sharon" Jackie said, looking into my face. "If it burns, you need to put your hand down there" So I did. "Can you feel her head?" I felt with my hand, and sure enough, there was her head, just inside the opening.
"Oh, GOD! Yes!" I sat back so I was on my haunches, my hand still on my perineum, so I could proceed with my birthplan. There was no way I could catch her myself on my hands and knees.

"Where is Addison?" I asked. Calm and collected now. Filled with adrenaline. Ready to birth my baby. She was upstairs playing. Jay asked his mom if she could go get her.

"I was going to in a minute" she said, not realizing I was so close.

"I don't think we have a minute" Jackie warned. So off Grandma scurried to fetch Addison, and let everyone know things were getting close. They came down and stood on the stairs so they could see the birth without being in the way.

The birth

With the next contraction I HAD to push and could feel her little head bulging out of me! It burned a lot and I was worried that I still had a cervical lip, but Jackie felt at my request and told me it was ok to push, I wasn't gonna tear anything. So I did. I was kind of in a squatting /semi sitting position as her head was born with the next contraction. I was guarding my perineum and could tell just how much to push as I birthed her head into my hands! I felt around her neck and could feel a cord so I had Jackie feel again... it was wrapped twice! And it was too tight to slip over her head.
My contractions were still so far apart, as pushing contractions usually are. There was a four minute break between the birth of her head and the birth of her body. So I was just sitting there chatting away with a baby head between my legs! I was feeling her little face with my hands, and stroking her fuzzy head. I could feel her fat little cheeks and her ears. Her eyes were closed. (Or maybe she just closed them because she didnt want to get poked in the eye by her mother's curious fingers?) I was in love, touching my new baby girl for the first time. I wanted to see her face so badly! But I had to wait for the next contraction.

Addison was on the stairs watching her sister be born and she was soooo excited! She was singing songs and talking excitedly "There is her head! She is coming out!! She is big enough, Grandma!" I could hear her singing.
As time kept ticking away, we were starting to look at the clock because it seemed like her shoulders were not going to rotate on their own. But we couldnt be sure until I had a contraction. So we started stimulating my nipples, Jay on one side and Peggy on the other to get the next contraction to hurry up, and Jackie and I helped her shoulders turn.

"Addie just slid out" I mused.

Isla's heart tones were good, and her cord pulsing, but still we couldnt' be sure how tight the cords were wrapped, and we didnt want her to be short of oxygen. Finally after four long minutes the contraction started and I pushed again. Because the cord was too tight to slip over her head, we had to summersault her out of there and unwrap them on the way up. It was interesting for sure! Half her torso came out, then Jackie had to pull her sideways so her bum popped out before swishing her the other direction to get her legs out. Then she flipped her over twice so she could reach the surface!
I was thankful she was in the water, because it was a much more gentle maneuver with the bouyancy of the water to support her weight. She just swished from side to side.
So obviously I didnt really get to catch her all the way myself, but I was not dissapointed. We did what we had to do to get her out safely.

Then up she came out of the water and on to my chest at 11:40 PM! Jay was right, she was born before midnight. (All in all it was only 35 minutes from the time we broke my water (6-7cm) until she was in my arms!) There she was! My baby girl! She was pink and warm and wiggly. She croaked a little, and grimaced.... and then she WAILED!
Such a high pitched mew of a cry, but filled with so much spunk! Wel aughed and thought she sounded like an angry kitten. I scooped her up in my arms close to my chest and kissed her little head.... another perfect baby girl to call my own. Oh what a precious moment!

Big sister Addison was with her grandma on the stairs watching her sister be born and her little face was priceless as she saw Isla come out! SO adorable! She ran down the stairs once the baby was born, and peered over the edge of the tub to see her. She did great, she wasnt afraid at all.

I am so glad she got to share that experience with us. Also watching the birth was my grandma, my mom, Jay's mom and dad and my sister Rosanna who was taking video. My little brother who is 14 was here too, but he stayed upstairs until everything was cleaned up. (who can blame him?) We spent the next 20 minutes or so floating around in the tub.
Isla was so alert, just looking around her and kicking her feet and waving her arms around. She was listening to everybody's voices and trying to figure out who was who, following people faces. She really was trying to find her sister's voice. She could hear her but not see her over the edge of the tub and it was obvious she was looking around for her. Its amazing how much newborns know when you just sit and watch them! Once my placenta came we cut the cord and let Jay take her so I could get out of the tub.

She got her newborn exam and came back to me to nurse. She latched on immediately like a pro! She nursed and nursed and nursed and nursed which was a good thing because my uterus was having a hard time staying clamped down and I was losing a little more blood than normal. But as soon as we got it to really clamp down it stopped and I was totally fine. The midwives left a few methergine tablets for me to take every four hours, just for preventative measures.

It took about three hours for the midwives and everybody to get the birth area cleaned up and all the checks done. I was happy to report I did not tear at all! I had wondered if maybe I had a few little nicks because it burned a little more than I expected when I pushed her out, and then we had to kind of pull her shoulders out which could have caused a tear, but I was good to go! That definitely makes recovery much easier. I am very thankful for no stitches down there in my lady business!
I got a shower, the tub got emptied by my husband and everything was buttoned down for the night. Jay put Addison to bed, the extended family went home and we got all tucked in for bed. The midwives left us about 3:00 am and we went to sleep, baby Isla curled up on my chest.

It was pretty much perfect! I couldnt have asked for anything better. Isla is a great nurser, she latched on right away with no problem, and is alert and curious. She looks so wise and all knowing, and has wonderful eye contact, like she has something she would like very badly to say. Her features are completely different from Addison's, she is definitely her own little person. It appears she will have blue eyes, they are definitely brighter than your average newborn gray!

Some thoughts
In hindsight, I think it was probably the cords around her neck that kept real labor at bay for so long, she probably had a very hard time tucking her chin enough to get in position. Even as her head came out and I was feeling the little fontanelles, I know she was coming out with her head more straight on, as the fontanelle I was feeling was very large... the major soft spot on the top of her head, not the little triangle of bones on the crown that you usually feel when their chin is tucked properly. Even the midwives commented as her head was born, Jackie thought she might be posterior because of the top of her head presenting. And in the day after her birth, you could see redness on her face, as though she scraped it along on the way out. But it all worked out and she was still born very quickly, regardless! I am very happy with the way things went and I feel very blessed to have had a super easy labor and another beautiful baby girl!

My home birth was amazing in every way, it was easy, gentle, peaceful, intimate, and joyful. Everything I hoped it would be. I am looking forward to doing it again next time!

Her birth video can be found at

My first baby, Addison Christine

I was 20 years old when our first daughter was born. Having grown up with a mother who was a birthing coach and a childbirth educator, as well as a home birther had given me a wonderful backround and shaped my ideas of how birth was supposed to work. I had known from the time I got married that when the time came I would give birth naturally, out of hospital and I was going to allow my body to work the way it was created. To birth my child.
I had every faith that I would be successful! I saw a wonderful midwife for my prentatal care, and she helped me to acheive a healthy, low risk pregnancy in preparation for my birth. I beleive that if you give your body the tools it needs to create a healthy baby and pregnancy, that you can also trust it to deliver this baby with an innate wisdom that you cannot even comprehend. This mindset has never faltered and has helped to carry me through my wonderful birth experiences.
Addison was the first. Here is her story.

My husband Jay and I had been given two different due dates, April 5th, 2006, ( I was due 04/05/06) and then after our 19 week anatomy scan ultrasound, they moved it to April 12th. The gender of our baby was a surprise, so by the timeI reached the end of my pregnancy, I was getting very impatient for our baby to arrive! I just could not wait to find out who had been kicking around inside of me all these months!
Once my first date had passed with my exam showing a firm closed cervix, my midwife Judi gave me some homeopathic pills to help speed my cervix ripening along. I was having small contractions daily throughout the last week before the birth and I was always hoping that one of them would finally hurt so I would know that it was really going to happen! After several days of "is this it?" I decided to just ignore the contractions until they got uncomfortable so I would not get my hopes up and overreact.

My dad had to leave Wednesday afternoon for work in the north Slope oil feilds and he was not scheduled to get back until the end of May. It was very important to me that he be here for the birth of his first grandchild and get to at least meet him or her before he left. I was beginning to get impatient. Monday the 10th of April I had been awake all night and my husband decided to stay home with me. We spent all day walking and having sex and doing other activities hoping to get labor rolling. I had good strong contractions 5 to 15 minutes apart all day long, especially while walking but when I would rest they would slow to a stop. I was very disappointed to find that they completely stopped when I laid down for the night. I had not one contraction all night long. I was beginning to think labor would never happen.

Early labor begins

Tuesday morning I woke up at 5:00 A.M. I got up and moved around and slowly I started having some contractions!! I sat down for a while and they kept going even when I was resting, but still nothing more than the contractions I had been having all week. I was discouraged.

About 10:00 A.M they were right at 5 minutes apart. I timed them for an hour, not daring to believe that this was the real thing. I took a shower and just before noon my aunt called me. She asked if I was having a baby today, and I told her
“I hope so, but we’ll see!”
She asked me to go to lunch with her and I thought that would be a good plan to keep my mind off of things. My contractions were a steady five minutes apart all afternoon like clockwork, but they never seemed to get more intense. There was lots of pressure, but no pain at all. I was cheerful to find a large bloody mucous blob on my toilet paper at one point when I used the bathroom at the restaurant. I kept thinking how funny it was that I was probably in labor, and nobody around me could tell.

Jay and I spent the rest of the afternoon driving around looking at houses and then stopped at WalMart to buy two little Easter outfits for that Sunday. We bought a girl and a boy outfit, and kept the receipt. When we left there at 4:30 I was getting a little discouraged and worried that the contractions were just going to stop again that evening. I decided to call the Midwife for a second opinion.
The midwife on call (I think it was Jessica) asked me if I had rested at all that day.
"No! I've been walking walking walking non stop, trying to get these things to hurt!" I reported.
She told me to go home and take a nap. She assured me that if this was real labor they would get stronger with some rest, but if not they would stop. We went home and made some bean and bacon soup and toast and I laid down for a nap.

I fell asleep about 6:30 only to be awakened by some serious contractions within the hour! I had to close my eyes and concentrate thought them, and they finally hurt a little! They were about a minute long and only 3.5 to 4 minutes apart. When Jay tried to rub my back right at the peak of a contraction and I told him not to touch me, he promptly went downstairs and called Judi. She told us to come on over! We got to the Birthing Center about 8:30 P.M. Tuesday, April 11th.

Active Labor

My midwife Judi greeted us at the center, and we proceeded with an exam. Judi checked me and I was barely 3 cm. dilated. The contractions were still very manageable but she took one look at me, touched the furrow between my eyes and told me I needed to relax! I didn’t even realize I was tense between contractions. She told us to bring in our gear... this was really going to happen!
A couple had just gone home after their birth that afternoon, and the tub was being sanitized, so I sat in the waiting room in the huge overstuffed chair while Jay brought in our things from the car.
I vividly remember a birthing video was on the T.V. and it began to sink in that this was the real thing. I was going to hold my own baby in just a few hours. I was going to be a mother. It was a little overwhelming and I sat and watched the babies on the screen come in to the world and I cried away all my tension.
When my room was ready, I went up and sat in the Jacuzzi tub for a while and my second midwife Kristine helped me time my contractions as I got into the rhythm of things.
There in the tub I learned how to effectively relax through my contractions, to let go of my tension, to release into the pain, to allow my body to work with it. I began to go into my labor trance, and time began to blur as I went inside of myself and began to get down to business. As my labor got stronger, I remember saying “Ok little baby, I was just joking! You don’t have to come out today. Are you sure you don’t want to wait til tomorrow?” My mom arrived after her Arbonne meeting and by that time I was out of the tub and into the shower. It was probably about 10:00 pm.

For the next few hours I switched between the birthing ball, the toilet, the shower and the floor. I liked laboring in the shower and I held on to the handrails and did “Hula” dancing…. Just rotating my hips in circles to help the baby come down faster with the warm water streaming on my back. At some point they checked me and I was just shy of 5 cm. dilated. I remember thinking that it was taking a long time.
It seemed like every time I changed positions I would have three contractions on top of each other with no break, so I tried to stay in one spot as long as possible. Judi had delivered three other babies in the 48 hours before my birth, and had hardly slept, so she left me in the care of Kristine and went to take a nap around 1:00 AM. I had been laboring now close to five hours.

On the way out she told me " We should have a baby in time to still get breakfast in the morning"... I looked at her like WHAT!??!? I have HOW many hours of this left?? Needless to say, those were NOT the encouraging words I wanted to hear! They kind of made me angry, in my laboring state. I was determined I would prove her wrong and have my baby a lot faster than she expected! I remember feeling soooo insulted! That's a cranky laboring woman for ya though.

By this time I was in very active labor, just coping with the contractions. I was very tired since I had been up since 5 that morning and had only about an hour’s rest all day. I knelt by the bed and remember just wanting to sleep.
During contractions, I found it best to close my eyes and concentrate on relaxing as the contraction started. At the peak of contractions, I felt it neccessary to deal with all the excess sensation by making a low "Oooooo" sound with every outgoing breath. I'm pretty sure I sounded like a cow mooing.This also gave me something to focus on, the sound of my own voice, and it kept me centered amidst the wild sensations having their way in my body. I envisioned my breath flowing out through my pelvis and pictured all sorts of things; flowers opening, the baby’s head pressing down and I made my body release into the pain instead of pulling away from it. This took ALL my willpower and concentration as labor progressed. The mind over matter mindset it took to stay in control was the hardest part of labor.

I spent most of my labor totally internalized and focused so I have little memory of what all was going on around me. I laid down on the bed for a while and tried to get some sleep between contractions. Jay and my mom rubbed my feet and that actually provided a lot of relief.

I didn’t get to stay there too long because Kristine checked me and there was a lot of progress! She decided it was time to go wake up Judi. I was surprised how fast I went from not even 5 cm. to almost 8! I got up from the bed to get in the Jacuzzi, but dropped to my knees as a HARD contraction hit me. I was so tired and I remember saying
“ I don’t want to do this anymore! I just want to sleep!”
Truthfully, I just wanted to cry. My mom saw I was about to lose it and she knelt down beside me next to the bed.
“You can’t cry now." she whispered, rubbing my back. "You have to do this. It's got to be done. Judi is about to come in here and you don’t want her to see you crying.”

“Judi can bite me!” was my reply. It was probably around 2:30 AM and I was starting my transition.
I got into the tub and to my surprise it was not long at all before I HAD to push. Kristine had me try to blow through the contractions and the urges but when you really have to push, there’s just not anything you can do about it! She checked me again and found that my membranes were bulging through my cervix into my vagina even though I wasn’t totally dilated yet. That was causing the premature urge to push, but it was still quite painful when I tried. She asked if I wanted her to break my water, but I wasn’t really coherent enough to decide whether I wanted to risk any harder contractions, even if it did make the baby come faster. So I declined.

I tried my best not to push then , and I found with some large raspberry blowings (like horsey noises) to direct the pressure elsewhere, I got through the next few contractions.

I was surprised to read, two years later, that Ina May Gaskin reccommends blowing raspberries to help fully relax a tight cervix! I had done it totally instinctually, all on my own. And it was remarkably effective.

The Birth

Judi arrived then, looking very chipper after her short nap. She was also surprised how fast I had progressed. My cervix was a little thick still on the right side, so they had me roll to the right to put more pressure on that side. A few minutes later with the next contraction, Judi told me there was just a tiny lip left and if she held it out of the way I could go ahead and push! I couldn’t believe it was almost over!

She tried her best to inform me that I still had a ways to go, and tried to prepare me for an hour or maybe even two left of pushing, which is normal for a first time mother, but I didn't buy it. My mom had all of her babies in three or four pushes. I beleived I would as well.

Once I could really push things happened very fast. After one good push, Judi said
“ Well, it has hair!” I was so excited I almost cried with releif!
At this point I really snapped out of my internalized mode as my labor slowed and gave me a good rest between pushes. It felt all at once relieving yet overwhelming to push, nothing like the pinch of contractions. The urge was absolutely unstoppable, pushing without my concious effort or consent. Such an incredible force, like a freight train through my body.

I remember asking Jay if he had called his parents. They were in the waiting room, as was my dad, my little brother and my sister Danielle and her boyfriend Jeremy. My sister Rosanna was taking pictures and video for us. They all came in just inside the door and waited quietly where I couldn’t see them. It only took about three contractions for her head to crown. At this point my water finally broke! We were beginning to wonder if the baby was going to be born in the sack.

The room was dimly lit and there were candles around the Jacuzzi tub. My mom was kneeling on the floor behind me and lending her support while Judi and Jay were down at the receiving end of things. Rosanna was taking video.
Judi told me to put my hand on the baby’s head so I would know how much to push. It was so surreal feeling that little patch of wrinkly skin and hair bulging out of me. It was incredible finally being able to touch my baby! Judi handed Jay a washcloth and had him press it onto my rectal area to help guide the baby's head upwards out my vagina, so it would not tear through my perineum. This rectal counterpressure was incredibly releiving, and helped to reduce the irrational feeling that I was going to split in half as I pushed. I made him keep his hand there, even between contractions.
I felt like I was trying to poop a grapefruit and I remember thinking how impossible it seemed that a whole baby was really going to fit out of my body!
My sister Danielle and my mother in law walked toward the tub with the next contraction so they could see as the head crowned up to the ears. Then my last contraction came and Judi said

“ OK Daddy, get your hands down here! The head’s out.” and in the same instant the whole body slipped into the water. Jay lifted our little baby out of the water and straight onto my chest at 3:59 AM April 12, 2006...
(WELL before breakfast, thank you very much! My labor was only 7 1/2 hours from the time we arrived at the birthing center) I absolutely squealed out loud with delight as I finally held my slippery little baby in my arms.

It's a GIRL! And celebration ensues

Jay took a quick peek between the legs and proudly announced his findings “It’s a girl!” I was SO excited! She began to wail and I started to laugh. There was an immediate change in the room from quiet anticipation to complete celebration! Everyone was talking and laughing at once, Addison was crying, and I was in some crazy state of euphoria. I felt like I could jump up and run around the room. I scooted around to the other side of the tub so I was facing the visitors (I had a swimsuit top on. No worries, I was modest.) and so Jay could see her better.

Everyone came to look at her and I laid her back so just her face was out of the water to keep her warm. She was so pink and vigorous and full of life, just looking around in wonder at her new surroundings. We stayed in the tub for about 20 minutes until my placenta came out, just talking and getting to know our new baby girl.

The Recovery

Then Jay cut the cord and took her from me so I could get up and into my nightgown. Everyone went out to give us some privacy and we weighed and measured Addison. She was 8lb. 3oz, 21 inches long. Judi and Kristine helped me up into bed where they checked to make sure there were no tears or undue amounts of bleeding, which there were not. I had birthed my 8lb 3oz baby girl over an intact perineum! No stitches in my lady business was definitely a plus.

My mom called my Grandma and Grandpa as well as my Aunt Sarah (who I had been to lunch with earlier in the day) and they came right over at 5:00 in the morning. I nursed Addison and then passed her around so she could meet all the family who had waited so anxiously for her to arrive. All the excitement died down around 6:30 and everyone went home to get some rest. They left Jay and I and our new baby curled up in bed. We slept for several hours, then I got up and had shower. We got our things together and after the midwives checked on us one more time to make sure everyone was doing well, we were told we could take our daughter home as soon as we felt ready. We drove home around noon April 12th.

We spent the rest of the day laying around the house and more family came over to meet Addie. My sister Rosanna and my friend Marjie made us omelets for dinner that evening and Addie and I napped on the couch off and on during the day. Everyone went home and left us alone as a family after dinner and we went to bed around 9:30. I remember laying next to Jay in our own cozy bed with Addison nestled between us. He was just looking at us, and a little tear started down his cheek. "Thankyou" He said, and he kissed me. It was the perfect ending to the most wonderful day of my life.

My reflections
Addison's birth was such a beautiful and positive start to my career as a mother! In 7 1/2 hours, it took me on a journey from an uncertain 20 year old to a confident, trusting, totally empowered mother. It taught me that I am capable of so much more than I ever dreamed, and granted me a new respect, trust and awe for my body, and myself as a person. It showed me the possibilities that are inside of me, and put me in touch with my intuition and instincts as a woman in a way that nothing else could. It was a primal, intimate, gentle, loving atmosphere; everything a baby should experience in her first moments on the earth. I am so thankful that I was able to experience it the way I did. I was granted dignity, respect and support during my labor and birth, and allowed the freedom to listen to my body, express myself and not only participate, but truly own my child's birth. Nothing can compare to it. I cannot help but feel that birth, as nature intended, is one of the most incredible processes on the earth, and I look forward to doing it again.

Her birth video is here