Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mia-Rose's birth

“There is a secret in our culture. It’s not that childbirth is painful, it’s that women are strong.”

It starts out as a chuckle. I am sitting up in bed, awake. Moments before this my sleep was deep and still, a rarity these days. The chuckle turns to laughter. The image of my friend Amy, buck naked in her new boyfriend’s kitchen, sleepwalking, is in my mind. My laughter increases to a level of uncontrollable as I imagine her yelling, “Come and get it everyone! Time to eat”! Her hands and boobs covered in sticky sweet BBQ sauce, her long brown strands of her hair stuck to the rib she is eating. Amy told me this true story the other day. Her boyfriend Barry woke up to find her sleep walking, in the kitchen, her body half in the refrigerator, stuffing her face with leftover ribs. The image grows in my head and I am near hysterical laughter—laughter much deeper than the story warranted. Sure, a funny vision, but not this funny. I fight the laughter, I try to make it stop, but it only deepens, leaving me gasping for air. Bill moans and rolls over in bed next to me. I look at the clock. 4 Am. I am laughing so hard my stomach aches and hardens. Laughter leaves my body in exploded bursts, like elephants on a mating call. I am being too loud and it’s too late at night. I want it to stop now. Stop now, I say aloud. I take huge breathes in, relax and then calmly bathe in a moment of silence. The silence passes like a fast car and laughter begins again. It’s reckless laughter. At this point I realize it is not mine. I don’t own this emotion.
I am not even happy. I am tired. I am achy and have spent all night tossing and turning my 186 pound body trying desperately to find a comfortable spot on the six pillows I use as props. I reach over and smack Bill. He groans again, turns to me and this time says, “What is going on? Are you crazy? What’s so funny? I gotta get up in 2 hours”. I smack him again. Tears are coming from my eyes and laughter is shaking my whole body. Thoughts of being committed arise if this laughing doesn’t subside. I bring my feet to the floor and shift my weight to standing. I have to stop fighting it. I have to just let it go. Then it stops. Just like that, except for a couple of little bursts here and there, I am back to my old self. I instantly begin to cry. What a relief. I feel like I lost weight or something. I go into the kitchen to make a bowl of cereal and warm milk, my sedative of choice. I cuddle back into bed, belly full, spooning Bill. He curls his feet around mine. I begin to dream. I dream I am at a bottom of an enormous rocky mountain, covered in green moss. I look up and the mountain seems to go on forever. The peaks are gray, stone and jagged. I think about turning and walking away, to head somewhere else. Instead, I climb it. I am even more pregnant in the dream, my belly as large as a boulder. I am barefoot. Rain is pouring down and soaking the moss and I am slipping and sliding all over the place, but I never fall. I get on my hands and knees and dig my nails deep into the earth in order to climb higher and higher. The rain pours over my face, sops my hair and fills my eyes. The rain drops continue to swell and widen. I leap over a crevasse and jump over a cliff. I land on both feet. I climb toward a large brown bear. She’s on all fours and eating some ground, but her eyes are on me, staring. They are large and black and kind. She looks at me knowingly. I ask her if she would do this for me, this journey, this trek. She just continues eating and waves me off with an oversized paw. I move on. Fear fuels me up this mount, higher and higher, and I start to feel like I am falling and immediately I slip and smash my face on a rock but get right up and continue. The earth is slick and feels greased. I struggle. Stopping is not an option. Something was waiting for me at the top. I am high in the sky and the ground below me is gone, there is only a spread of blackness. Somewhere from above me, Bill calls out. Finally I am near the apex, jagged like a saw’s tooth. I hook my bare feet into small hole and grunt up to the final plateau. My arms ach, my fingers broken, yet I am exhilarated. I see only one thing. Standing high into the clouds where the air is pure mist, I see the moon. It’s two feet way from me, large and pregnant with a pale yellow hue. I stand and stare. I am awestruck and in love and am given the insight that mountain tops are subtle. Bill and I wake up early this morning. I gulp down a smoothie and head out to our last visit with the midwives. We’re driving the winding roads up to the top of Mount Washington where she lives and Bill flies over bumps and speeds around curves. I snap at him, ‘watch out and start driving like a human being.’ He looks at me and sighs. Each moment I become testier, nastier. Shelley’s home sits at the hill’s crest and overlooks downtown Los Angeles. I lay on a bed that’s against a wall-length picture window. Outside a hawk flies in circles. Crows travel from treetop to treetop. My midwife puts her hand up me and feels around. Her fingers come out bloody, “Nope. Not quite a centimeter. A bit effaced. You need to go home and drink a glass of wine. Relax. Let this baby come out. Give her a couple days.”* We stop at the store to buy wine on the way home. I climb out of my small red Honda grunting as I lift my weight through the door. I notice my feet. They look like a cave man’s feet. They are huge and puffy and the nails are chipped with a desperate need of a pedicure. They look like my mothers feet. I wore a pair cheap plastic flip-flops in black. It’s so damn hot and sticky feet mixed with the low quality of the shoe had turned my foot a dingy blackish gray color. My stretchy yoga pants are sticking to my inner thighs and crotch. I’m wet with pregnancy and sweat. My shirt is a few inches short of my navel and I exposed the world with a bubble of my child’s form, one perfectly pink stretch mark.

“You look like you’re gonna pop!” A woman in the store says as I pass her. She is obviously too old to remember childbearing days or has never been pregnant, therefore knows not the psychological implications of her comment.
“Twins?” she asks. She obviously does not know the twins etiquette, either. Asking one if they are carrying twins is like asking a woman her age.
“No,” I growl. I’d like to pop her one, I think as my hand reaches back and picks my pants from the crack of my ass. Everything is sticky. My mind is turning evil. I hate people, all of them. This isn’t how I always was. I remember a few weeks ago, a month ago, when I was like a swollen case of walking, talking sunshine. Then I strutted with confidence, ease, grace a smile on my bloated face, glowing with that pregnant thing. The past few days I have felt very, very bad. My neighbor, Elka, a native of India and mother of two boys gave me little advice during this pregnancy. What she did say was, ‘never sit with your legs cross while pregnant’ and when the baby was ‘coming soon, you will feel very, very bad, very angry. Not like all the other time when you felt happy.” This baby must be coming soon. I grab a bottle of wine, making sure it’s more expensive than five dollars and that it’s white. It is well above 100 degrees in the city and just the thought of red wine coated my tongue and throat in fur. In line the check-out person jokes with me. “I can’t sell this to you! You aren’t allowed to drink!” He points to my naked belly. I just stare at him, long and hard, like a cat does when a leashed dog passes them. Ten months earlier I would have smiled big and bright, batted my eyes, sucked in my stomach and flirted. He’s young and pretty hot, tattooed with that scraggly Hollywood hair-do. Today I hate him. He quickly bags my wine and greets the man behind me in line. I waddle out, holding on to my husband, feeling like horrible bitch, like a small monster has taken over my body.
At home I put on my old gray nightgown. I had this one since college days. Almost seven years. It’s worn and comes to my knees with thinning spaghetti straps and a few moth holes. I pour myself a glass of white wine. I fix up my birthing altar. Setting my gray stone statue of Quan Yin on the center of my dresser, I am reminded of my wedding day. Bill and I married in front of that statue just about one year earlier. I am suddenly filled with a cool tingle of love. I am instantly injected with pure euphoria remembering our love has created a person, someone who we will hold very soon, someone to carry on for us. I surround Quan Yin, Great Goddess Mother of Compassion, with candles and some stones I have been collecting– a Rose Quartz for love, a smooth obsidian for fearlessness and Lapis for intuition.
We order in that night. I was done with cooking. I was saving my clean kitchen. I wouldn’t let Bill use it either. Poor guy’s starving. I plan on making a cake during early labor, I read about people who do that. They bake something or have a project, something crafty to do while the contractions start to come. Though I can’t imagine myself calmly going through beginning contractions humming along with the egg beater, I have all the ingredients ready and the kitchen is clean and organized. Tonight we get dinner from Michelangelo’s, the restaurant across the street from us. I order their special chicken, topped with spinach and mozzarella which I will later see floating in the toilet after puking at 5 centimeters dilated. Bill runs out and rent’s some old Soap episodes and the movie, Dog Day Afternoon. We spread out on the futon that’s placed in the living room–an optional birthing site for me. I have one more small glass of wine with some special dark chocolate. About half way through Dog Day Afternoon, although intrigued and entertained by the story-line, I begin to doze off. Somewhere in between sleep and wake I hear Pacino’s character come out of the closet and I wake up again for a few minutes, aware of something, but not sure what. I curl myself up in a ball; my knees are up to my chest and my back against Bill front side. I am totally comfortable for the first time in months. I don’t feel that nagging ache in my hip. My body feels light and easy. I jump up. My mouth falls open.
Bill looks at me, waiting for me to say something. “What time is it?” I ask. “Almost midnight.” “I just felt something. It’s not like before, it different.” “A real contraction?” “I think so.” And then again, like my lower back and lower belly were being squeezed from all direction, it takes over. “Wow. It’s starting. It’s here. Let’s go for a walk.” I get up to my feet and begin looking for my sneakers, a bit frantically. Is this it? Shit, there is no turning back. I stop. It takes over my body again and I shudder. I feel queasy and excited. It is, without a doubt, the start of something big. Bill is still sitting on the floor watching me. “Come on! Let’s go!” He jumps up and turns off the movie. You’re sure?” He asks. I tell him to please make that the last time he asks a question like that. He gets my shoes, puts them on me and ties up my laces.

Walking is good to me. My body is cruising down the sidewalk like riding waves, up and down, smooth and steady. It has a job to do and it’s starting to take over. The thinking straps on my mind loosen and I let go of any unnecessary brain work. I have walked for months now, everyday, it is so familiar. I walked about twenty miles a week during this pregnancy. Even in the summer heat, when I would be sweating down there and my inner-thighs would rub together painfully, chaffing my flesh, I walked as though it were my religion. And now, in labor, I can feel it loosen my hips. It’s keeping my mind still. I walk by Raj’s Liquor store. He has already closed up. I walk by Netty’s, the restaurant on the corner of Silver Lake Boulevard and Effie. It’s that pricey place that makes some really good bread pudding and their pumpkin ravioli is to die for. We walk up the hill to the dog park. I double over with a contraction so strong I get down like a dog to breath through it. I am totally unaware that anybody else besides Bill, who stands guard above me, exists. I hear cars pass and the buzz of distant city voices. They aren’t from my world now. In this moment I am living elsewhere. In the next moment, I get up and complain. I whine. I let my mind judge the pain. I remind myself not to do that. I say out loud that complaining is not invited. The time span in between my contractions is short, too short. It is unlike what they tell you all about early labor in those classes. This was no cake baking time. They are coming on top of one another yet I still am able to have mini-conversations with Bill.

“It’s back labor. It’s like my back is trapped under a dinosaur foot. I don’t know if I can do this,” I doubt out loud and Bill quickly and firmly reminds me that I most definitely can. From this point on I am a believer.

We are walking and walking. I want my contractions stronger and faster. I want my baby now. I walk as fast as I can and let the surges come to me—-strong and filling me up with the most unusual and grateful force. I am on all fours. I’m leaning against Bill. I’m squatting. I am pressing my face into the earth’s dirt of someone’s front yard. I beg out loud for strength. Each time I choose to relax, I open just that much more. I am beginning to understand the process. To take this passage the key is to move freely and then completely relax. And when each contraction is over, I walk, walk, and walk. After an hour we head towards home. I am in the shower. How long have I been in here? Are my socks on? Is this me in this body? I lean into the cold tile and dig my nails into the old grout then catching this tense act, I immediately shake my hands by my side, loosening each finger and my wrists. I open up some almond oil castile Soap. It smells horrible now, thick and sweet. I squirt it against this concrete-hard belly of mine and rub it in. I feel the baby kick and I wince in pain. I get out of the shower, Bill holds my hand. I throw up in the toilet. I puke up dinner. I puke up fear. I puke a bigger opening for my baby to come out of. I go back in the shower. The sound of the water hitting my rock hard stomach was like a tropical storm on sand. I want it to crash against my back, to crack open my flesh and let relief ooze out like warm jelly. I want pressure. I want some pleasure. I am angry, scared shitless, completely fearless. I am excited. I feel full of a warrior’s passion and joy. “There Bill, right there, press hard,” I beg his hand. “No! Not there! Here!” He moves his hand somewhere else. “No! There! There! To the right!” I grab his hand with mine and move it. Not there either. Why does my back feel like it’s splitting in half? I moan loudly. I try to remind myself, as soon as the feeling starts to roll down the hill, to find balance in the pain, to let it pull my lower half down and to allow it to lift my upper half higher up. I somehow find a rather large space of peace and safety right in the middle. I get out of the shower for good and crawl into my bed. “Rest.” Bill instructs. “You need to rest.” My world enters into stillness for a moment. And when the next contraction comes I accept it without sound or movement. I let it move through me while I am motionless. It is by far the strongest, longest and deepest one that I have. “Call my midwife. Please.” I surprisingly remember and desire to be polite. I begin to feel thanks and devotion for his presence. He feeds me carrot soup. A cracker. Some Gator-Aid. “Are you sure?” He asks. I ignore this.
“Call Shelley. Please. Now.” He comes back with the phone and Shelley is at the other end. “Let me hear you breath”, her voice was a reassuring song that hope may live. “Breath through a few contractions for me and let me just listen to you.” I get out of bed, walk into the kitchen and straddle on a wooden chair. The lights from the busy street project against my dark kitchen wall. A cool breeze from the window envelopes my body. The feeling that my baby is squeezing out of me starts right in my center. It moves up and down all at the same time until it is the owner of me and I am just a renter watching this event. I breathe. A few more pass through like a hurricane and I use my breath like the wind to spiral it through. Then there is peace. There is silence. I wait to hear Shelley speak. “You’re doing well. You’re working too hard, though. Your breath is too strong. You’re early yet, save the energy.” “I am not early Shelley.” I am blunt and direct. “This baby is coming soon.”

She sends her assistant over to our apartment. Seannie is petite and Irish with soft, watery blue eyes that match the scrub pants she’s wearing. Seannie birthed three children, the last baby she caught herself with Shelley watching from a distance. Seannie told me she loved child birth, she loved the feeling of her child squeezing and sliding down and opening up her flesh. As she walks into my bedroom, her commuter mug fills the air with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. I have a big, bad, heavy contraction, on all fours on my bed as soon as I see Seannie. When it’s over she lifts my nightgown up over my backside, rubs my back a bit with chilly hands. I noticed it was morning as the grayness begins to peek through our rice paper shades. Seannie slides her hand in between my legs and checks me out.
“You’re ten centimeter! You’re there. Do you feel like you have to push?” I don’t feel like it at all. I feel like I have at least a couple more hours. But as soon as I hear her say the word ‘ten’ I yell “Yes! Yes! I want to push!” Of course I want to push this Carlos Rossi wine jug sized human out of my yoni. I want her out and I am ready to bear down this baby. I’ve only been in labor six hours and am feeling very impressed with myself. “I want you to give me some short and consistent breaths while I call Shelley.” She looks at Bill and says she hopes Shelley would make it over for the birth. I hear her on the phone telling Shelley I was open and ready. She jokes about how they should always work with yoga teachers—they labor so quickly. Shelley is in my bedroom in fifteen minutes which means the 110 Freeway was clear, that she caught all green lights on San Fernando Road or she ran the red ones. She checks me. She sighs. I am not fully dilated. I am only half way there. I am five. I can’t let this mess with me. “I’m only half way?” I weakly say, to myself and to everyone else. Bill takes me hand and kisses it in sympathy and encouragement. Seannie apologizes over and over. Shelley gives Seannie a sharp look, a teacher scolding her pupil, and directs her to take me on a long walk. I moan through another contraction and moan at the thought of having to walk. Bill puts on my sneakers for me. Seannie finds some loose pants to put on under my now blood stained–thanks to the mucus plug– nightgown We live in a hill community of Los Angeles. Silver Lake is made up of winding streets with public staircases that go from level to level. It is a botanical covered neighborhood and the air is alive with the smell of ocean and jasmine. I walked these stairs nine months of pregnancy. I lifted my knees high and hiked the city steps as my stomach got bigger and heavy and each step got harder and higher. That morning, Bill, Seannie and I begin our ascent out my back door and up those stairs for a couple levels. We take a right turn when I can’t go any higher and head down Occidental Boulevard. It’s about 6:30 or 7am, I am told, just in time to catch the commuters heading to work. We get some strange looks, to say the least. I guess I can’t blame people. It must be a sight unusual to them. I am large and swaying between a man and women, all three of us linked by arms. I stop every few seconds to moan like a jungle animal, groan and then smile, thanking myself and my baby, knowing my body is doing a good job. One women gives the thumbs up at me and tells me to keep breathing. Seannie glances at her in thanks. Another woman looks horrified and as we stop in front of her driveway and all do an ‘OM” together so loud and long it may have vibrated the ground. Seannie begins to talk about the real estate prices in the neighborhood in between my contractions. This seems totally rude at first, and I am about to ask her to stop, but then I start to hear her like a master- in –training; she is using technique. Her conversation is keeping me focused on the reality of things, the real life of things in between contractions. I am not allowed to judge myself or the pain or take the time to fear the next sensation. And as soon as I need her, she is there, silently guiding me, kneading my back, sending me love. But when it is over, we are back to strolling in an over-priced neighborhood. Bill is a pillar of support, a solid stone in my pocket, the soon to be father of our child. I radiate all four of us some love, as I am filled with a presence of something so grand, as majestic and eruptive as a mountain, something I have never been graced with before, at least not to my recollection. Despite this being out and out painful, or let’s say the hardest job I have ever endured, the first thing on my mind is love and gratitude. Never before has pure pain carried me to such a high ground. There is something that is happening in these contractions that chips away the leftover emotional junk I carry. It’s molding me into a much finer sculpture, lighter with less baggage. It’s forming me into a Mother.

After an hour of walking, it is time to head home. “Let’s see how much magic that walk did.” Shelley says to us as we walk inside. Shelley must have just finished meditating. She’s sitting in zazen on my bathroom floor. She looks lovely to me, a golden master whom I trust. I think how happy I am my baby will be born looking into her face, into Seannie’s face, into mine and Bill’s faces…all faces of sincerity and peace. She looks up to us. “Let’s check you out.”

I am nine centimeter open. I am beginning to spin. I’m tired to say the least, yet I am filling up with an awesome sort of energy; ready and waiting to finish this part of the journey.

I eat a bit, I drink some juice. And then I begin to squat. It’s funny, no matter how many times I glued my feet to the floor, bent my knees, and dropped my hips down into a squat for frog pose while I was pregnant, it did not completely prepare me for this moment. My legs buckle and ache from weakness and fatigue, my feel slide around under my body. I begin the practice of pushing. One belly breath in, deep. Hold. Push. Exhale. Pop. My water breaks all over my bedroom floor. Seannie mops it up quickly. Shelley notices we have the same toe-nail polish one. “Look,” she says to me, “the same color as mine”. Our eyes meet and she smiles. She has the ability to keep things light. “Time to be really powerful, honey,” she whispers as she places a gentle hand on my cheek. I nod. I look at both of our feet. Our toes are practically touching as she is down on the floor, facing me. My polish is chipped, hers are perfectly painted.

I move to the bed and continue what will be the hardest and heaviest journey in my life. My head is pressing up against my headboard. Bill has one leg lifted and wrapped up behind me, Seannie has the other. My feet are almost wrapped behind my head. My arm extends out past my leg and my hand is pressing hard against the wall next to me for some power, some leverage. I push so hard I cry out loud a profanity. I push so hard I begin to feel angry and regret. I push so hard I feel years of childhood fear come up to my throat. I push so hard I feel anger rise up from my organs, anger that has been stored away for decades. I taste all my mistakes and regrets in my mouth and I grunt them out. My chest aches. I have never felt so lonely or cold. I begin to see red and I push even harder. I did not expect this. I didn’t know I would be releasing thousands of years of bodily and emotional oppression. It is somewhat like the first time I tried to stand in Warrior pose for several minutes and I cried as my heart bled out toxins. Pushing is like that, but one million more times difficult. “I am too tired. No more”, I moan. Shelley runs out of the room and is back in a flash with my framed black and white photo of Paramahansa Yogananda. She holds it up for me to see. She gives me a gentle lecture. “Marybeth, look at him. He says there is abundant energy in the Universe. You believe that. Ask for it. Take it in. There is plenty of energy for you. Find it within.” I focus for a moment on that. I feel a surge of light come into my body through my head and I am shocked to find another push in me. “Feel Marybeth! Reach your hand down, feel your babies head. I want you to feel,” Shelley says. I half-heartedly reach my arm down between my legs. My efforts are on pushing, not feeling a head, and I am annoyed at being distracted. But I feel her. My fingers move up through my open yoni and land on squishy, warm, fuzzy flesh. A warm peach, that’s what her head feels like. A baby. A baby human was emerging from me.
My next push is like lightening surging through me. I look down to see a bulge framed by my flesh. I push again and the bulge gets bigger. Seannie rubs my perineum with clothes soaked in warm chamomile infused oils. Another push and a small head squeezes through my skin. One large dark baby eye is opens and looks around the room. Her head resembles a shift in the earth’s plates, uneven and rather square. She is a transparent color of periwinkle blue. She is stunningly beautiful. Her shoulders are broad and stuck. Shelley reaches inside me, what feels like up to her elbows, and helps the baby come down and I gently push. Slipping and slithering and wet, a child is born. A child is born in the same bed she was conceived. This child is upon my chest. I am over myself with joy and exhaustion— and quite honestly—- the promise to myself to never go through anything like that again. We cover the baby in soft blankets and Bill and I lean in and touch heads and wrap ourselves around our new family. We massage her back, waiting for her to cough or cry. We speak to her in small mommy and daddy voices. We say how much we love, how long we have waited. I repeat the word ‘Baby’ over and over again. Shelley lifts up the covers for a split second and Bill says, “It’s a girl!” We always knew she was a girl. I put by nose into her head and smell her mixture of life and the powerful presence of fresh blood. In this gray morning, a misty and mystical marine layer coats the air and naturally dims our room. A small yellow candles flicker and burn the scents of sage and cedar. I can see she has a pink face, the face of a Buddha. Her light hair is fine and her lips are the shape of a rosebud. She still has not cried or taken a big gulp-like breath. I imagine it to be like in the films, where the baby screams instantly. She is wheezing quietly, slightly gasping for air. She doesn’t seem to want to latch on to my breast. Shelley gently lifts her from my arms. She is suctioned some more. No response. She is aspirated. No fluids are coming up, which means her lungs are clear, yet no response. They give her oxygen. My baby’s small hand which is attached to a tiny muscular arm reaches up to the oxygen mask and pushes it away. She does not like it. Shelley laughs. “Give her time. She is fine. Her nail beds are pink and her heartbeat is perfect. She is so strong she is pushing this mask away. Can we give her to daddy for a bit while I take care of you?” Shelley asks me. I am shaking and whimper a yes. I am scared. Is Shelley telling me the truth? Is she okay? Why isn’t she crying? Breathing? Bill takes our swaddled daughter and walks out of the room. I hear him introducing her to the dogs. I hear him bring her into the backyard, introducing her to the world. I birth the placenta. Shelley stitches me up. She assures me my baby would be okay. “She just needs some time.” I remember a teaching of Yogananda’s regarding choosing life. He says when we are born, we consciously choose to take our first breath, acknowledging and accepting that we are leaving the heavenly place we came from and entering an earthly plane where we will live. My daughter is just taking her time, contemplating, making sure here with us is were she is needed.
What seems like hours pass and Shelley is still stitching me. I am aching to nurse my baby and be close with her and just then Bill walks in with her. “She’s doing better. She’s breathing a bit here and there. I think she’s just fine,” he says. The entire pregnancy Bill said that he knew labor would be an intense spiritual lesson for him. I always thought he meant in the usual way labor is. Later I find out that the time he spent with our daughter those moments after her birth were unlike no other for him. He experienced complete selflessness for the first time in his life. He left himself, he says, and gave everything he had to his daughter, in hopes for her to breathe. While he was in deep meditation, holding her, she began taking her first breaths Bill lays her in my arms. Her face is that of an angel. I can see yellow light around her head. Her nose is smushed to one side from the birth canal. Her eyes are open, dark blue and observing me, her mother. I begin to nurse. She still has hard time, but she’s trying—her lips are searching and feeling for me. Her breathing is still irregular, but it exists. “Name her. She wants a name.” Shelley says. Bill and I had debated names for awhile. We just couldn’t agree. She came to me in a dream while I was pregnant and told me her name was Rose. “How about Mia Rose?” Mia was a name we spoke of briefly months before. But it was the first one to come to my head now. We both look at her. Her wide eyes were of a Libras. Libra is ruled by Venus, whose symbol is the five-petaled rose. She smells so sweet. I breathe her in. Bill repeats the name, “Mia Rose.” She takes another breath. She latches on my breast. She begins to suckle. Mia Rose it is.

We sit on the bed and basked in the sun of our creation. It is a godly feeling to make a human. It is even more so to birth one. But to hold one, so new and pure, is beyond godly: it is God. My oldest sister, a first born daughter walks into our room with my mother, a first born daughter as well, to meet Mia Rose, another first born daughter. I look at my mom and tell her I never knew until this moment how much she loved me.
That night Mia slept between Bill and me. Despite being up for twenty-four hours laboring, I stay awake for most of this night as well and just stare at her, watching her chest rise and fall, her eyelids flutter, her small hand tightly squeezing my finger. “Welcome to your first night on Earth, Mia. Thank you so much for coming.” I whisper in her ear. It wouldn’t be the first time I thank her for coming to me. It wouldn’t be the first I stay up all night to stare at my daughter’s miraculous face.

Notes *In no way did my midwife ever encourage me to drink alcohol during my pregnancy. She knew that particular day that I was stressed and really wanted to labor to begin. She thought one glass of wine would do just the trick to relax me and let labor begin. I was about 4 days overdue and getting bigger by the second….and wine is a lot gentler than castor oil!

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Bumper stickers

So I decided recently that since we have the apple sticker on the car, and the darwin fish sticker, that I'd like a homebirth sticker to go with them. The older my kids get, the more proud I am of my home birth & my ambulance birth (lol - but was just like a home birth... no intervention, no drugs).

So I'm trying to find a good one. I found this one which nearly made me cry. If midwifery wasn't the norm in New Zealand, I'd totally buy one.

The search continues..

Friday, November 30, 2007

Julian's Birth

Julian Emerson’s birth story

Recorded on Nov. 29 and Dec. 11, 2006

My labor began around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006, (41 weeks to the day) when I woke up to a real contraction, not the typical toning contractions I’d been having for the past several months. This was the night after I went in for some serious acupuncture (with electronic stimulation) at the acupuncture college to bring on labor. I was excited when I had another and yet another contraction and it started to sink in that I was in early labor.

I mentioned that I thought I was in early labor to Jody when he came to bed around 2 a.m. He got me my HypnoBirthing Rainbow Relaxation c.d. sometime during the night and I listened to it with my headphones on to help me stay focused and relaxed. I went through most of the night sleeping in between contractions. When I did have one, I breathed through it and reflected on something I’d read on a message board. One mama said that each time she had a contraction, she thought of her body giving the baby a big hug. That thought made me smile when I read it and so I focused on all the hugs my body was giving my baby for the last time while he was in utero.

I woke up a bit before 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23). Jody and Ava were still sleeping. I continued to have contractions though they weren’t really regularly spaced. I decided to go have some breakfast and watch TV. I had some yogurt, peanut butter toast and Pregnancy Tea and watched a bit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade while I breathed through contractions. I found the TV to be a bit distracting so I turned it off and mostly lay on the couch. When I got up and moved around, my contractions picked up, but while I laid on the couch, they slowed down a bit. I was feeling pretty tired so I decided that hanging out on the couch was a good thing for now, to save up my energy for when I really needed it.

I called K, my midwife, around 10 a.m. and told her that I was in labor and what was going on with me. She said to check in every few hours – like around 1 p.m. – and let her know how I was doing. She also said she would probably come by to check on me later in the day and take my blood pressure and draw my blood so she could make sure that all was going well with me and there were no signs of HELLP syndrome (which I developed when in labor with Ava). In the meantime, she said I should go eat a big breakfast.

Jody came downstairs (and Ava soon after) and made eggs, turkey bacon and toast. I didn’t feel much like eating, but it tasted good and I slowly ate it all.

After breakfast and watching some of the parade on TV with Ava, I was still feeling really tired, so I decided to go back up to the bedroom and take a nap. That was around noon.

Before I went to sleep, I briefly talked to my sister Carrie on the phone and told her I was in early labor, but I had no idea if the baby would be born that day or when. I just wanted to give her a heads-up since she was planning on being here during the labor (once we needed her) and birth to watch Ava.

Again, I slept between contractions while I napped, but somewhere in that hour or so that I lay in bed, my contractions shifted significantly. They started to get very intense and I had to start vocalizing (or moaning) to get through them. I called out to Jody and told him that things were getting really intense and right around then the phone rang and Jody answered it. It was K (midwife) saying she was on her way by to see how things were going with me. Jody mentioned that it was good she was coming because I had just said that things were getting intense. (I later figured out that I must have been in “transition” during that time.)

I don’t recall if I asked Jody to apply counter-pressure to my back around that time or if he just instinctively did it, but it helped a lot to relieve the back labor I was experiencing.

K arrived around 1:10 p.m. She took my blood pressure, which was normal. (She never got a chance to draw my blood, but it turned out not to matter.) Then I had another contraction which I vocalized through and told her that it really hurt. She wanted to check me then to see how dilated I was. I was thinking that I hoped I was at least 5 cm dilated so that I could get into the birthing pool (which hadn’t been set up yet) or this was going to be a very, very long labor. I can’t remember if she said I was fully dilated when she checked me (though she later told me that I was complete), but she commented that the head was still really high. She felt around a bit more and then excused herself. (I found out later that that was when she discovered what she was feeling was limbs and that the baby was now breech. She excused herself so she could call A, the assisting midwife, and tell her to get to my house ASAP.)

K came back in the room and whispered to Jody that she had felt feet while she was checking my dilation. He didn’t quite realize what that meant at the time. At some point he said something aloud about the baby’s feet, which I heard and replied “feet??” (although I don’t remember this). And K said yes, the baby is breech, which I remember. I didn’t have any weird reaction to this news. I thought I remembered reading stories of babies being born vaginally in the breech position in “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth,” so I knew it could be done. I wasn’t fearful at all. It was all just very matter of fact in my mind – the baby is breech and I’m going to have to get him out.

Somewhere in there, Jody called Carrie (three times) to come to the house. The last time he talked to her, she said she would be here in 20 minutes, but Jody said at the rate things were going that might be too late. So in the meantime, Ava hung out with me, K and Jody in the bedroom. She never seemed scared or worried for me and I think it helped a LOT that we had watched birth videos and read the “Welcome With Love” book (about a home birth) many times in preparation for the birth. In the book they mention that sometimes moms have to yell and scream and make a lot of noise when babies are born and I am thankful that it said that since I ended up making a LOT of noise myself – something I didn’t expect because I never got vocal while giving birth to Ava. At one point, K asked Ava if she could go downstairs and get her purse for her. Ava did it without missing a beat. She was a great helper.

Anyway, I think it was after K left the room to call A that I felt the first urge to push. It was a completely involuntary urge and I yelled out “I need to push!” I remember K yelling back to go with whatever my body was telling me to do. I think it was on the next contraction or the one after that that my water broke – all over the bed. I had not planned on giving birth in bed, and because things had progressed so quickly at the end, we hadn’t even put a waterproof cover down. I remember thinking – Oh no! I’m soaking our new mattress! (Our mattress was only six months old. Thankfully, it cleaned up and dried out nicely.)

The baby’s feet were born first without too much pushing on my part. Jody left the room during that time and I yelled to K, “Where is he going?!” furious because he was no longer applying counter-pressure to my back. She said, “He’s getting the camera.” And I yelled, “I don’t care about pictures!” He did snap a few of the baby’s feet coming out, but only one turned out because K’s hand was in the way of the others.

Jody called the professional photographer we hired to photograph the birth around the time I started pushing, but got her voicemail. By the time she called back, the baby had been born. (We opted to have her take family pictures a few weeks later instead.)

Carrie arrived after his feet were born and took Ava downstairs since things were very intense in the bedroom.

After his feet and legs came out, K said I needed to move to the end of the bed, so that gravity would be on our side. I said, “No” emphatically, not wanting to move a muscle. K said I *had* to move, so she and Jody picked me up and scooted me to the foot of the bed. She then told Jody that we needed to get into a supported squat position, so he held me under my arms while I began to bear down with everything I had.

I started out pushing with contractions, but it didn’t take long for K to say she wanted me to push whether I was having a contraction or not. I’ve heard enough birth stories to know this meant that I needed to get the baby out ASAP, so I pushed and pushed, taking breaks just long enough to catch my breath.

While his body was being born, A (the assisting midwife) arrived.

I don’t remember birthing him as being painful per se, but it was really, really intense work. I vocalized through every push and couldn’t imagine doing it without making noise. I think I opened my eyes once and then closed them again so I could focus on pushing. I also remember moving my right hand to the top of my belly. It helped me feel more connected with the baby and the job we both were working on.

Once his body was born (but his head still inside me), at K’s urging I pushed with everything I had to get his head to come out. I remember wondering if I was pushing enough or if I would be able to do it, but his head emerged with one really hard push.

Our son, Julian Emerson, fully entered the world at 2:14 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006, after about 13 hours of labor, only one of which was really intense, and about 45 minutes of pushing. It was approximately 1 hour after K had arrived to our house.

It turned out that Julian’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck three times. It is for that reason, my midwife and I believe, that he ended up turning into a breech position in the days or hours before he was born. It was as if he “knew” he couldn’t safely be born head-down with the cord as it was, so he flipped to a safer position – in an act of self-preservation.

Also, I later learned that his right arm was tucked back behind his head and K had to reach inside me and pull it down so that he could be born without damaging it or getting stuck. She also reached in while his feet were being born to make sure they both came out together and one didn’t get wedged in.

Julian scored a measly 3 on his first Apgar, then an 8 on the second one done 5 minutes later. A gave him a few puffs of air mouth-to-mouth to help get him breathing, while they encouraged us to talk to our baby. It didn’t take long for him to start breathing, and in the meantime, he was still getting oxygen from the umbilical cord that was left attached to the placenta until it stopped pulsing. Jody and Ava cut the umbilical cord together a little over an hour after he was born.

Julian weighed in at 9 lbs., 8 oz., was 22 inches long, and had a 15 inch head. What a big boy!

After the intensity of that birth and such a large baby, I ended up with only a first-degree tear, requiring four stitches. Not bad at all.

Giving birth to a baby in the breech position felt so different from birthing a head-down baby (as Ava was). With Ava, once her head was out, it felt like the rest of her just slid right out. With Julian, I felt like I had to work for every ounce of him to be born – saving the hardest part – his head – for last.

It was an amazing, incredible and very intense experience, but, if you ask me, it could not have turned out more perfectly. We have so much to be thankful for. We have a healthy baby boy and I had a great home birth with our amazing midwife. It is a Thanksgiving Day our family will never forget!

Click here to visit the story, as originally posted, with beautiful photos!

Home Birth Awareness slogans

I just found this great post through Corin's birth blog. I love it!

Shamelessly, copied and pasted from the above blog:

Birth - every home should have one

Save hospital beds for sick people - have a homebirth

Home Made, Home Birthed, Home Grown

HOMEBIRTH - Sacred and Safe

For Safety Choose a Midwife

Better Birth begins at Home

Conceive at home? Birth at home!

Stay-at-home birther

Drugs in birth? Just Say No!

Induction? Just Say No!

Birth pool hire $50.00, scented candle $10.00, new roll of film $6.00, homebirth PRICELESS

Vaginas, they're not just painted on

Birth is not a Disease

Midwives for Birth! Doctors for Disease!

women give birth, pizzas are delivered

homebirth IS the safe option

I was born to birth.

Birthing Goddess

Homebirth. Just do it.

Home Sweet Homebirth

Homebirth. The Thinking Woman's choice.

Made with Love at Home, Arrived with Love at Home

Home is Where My Birth Is

Friday, November 09, 2007

James' birth

Due to being 2 weeks overdue, I was admitted to hospital for
an induction on the 2nd of October - the postnatal ward was
so busy the Midwife had to check they could go ahead. eek I
so didnt want to go home. But all was fine, and the Midwife
and oncall OB came in and administerd the gel at 8.35, Carlo
and I wandered around the hospital a bit in the hopes things
would get moving, I started feeling mild contractions, and
when they put me on the CTG at 2pm I was having mild
contractions every 2 mins. They decided I was contracting
too often to give me more gel and I would have to wait till
morning to recieve any more... and they couldnt break my
waters because my cervix was still closed.
When we realised things werent speeding up I sent Carlo home
for the telly - I so didnt
want to miss Outrageous fortune when I wasnt even in proper
At 6.15 I had a show - and from there my contractions became
stronger. I had another VE at 7.45 and my cervix was still
closed. She said she would see me in the morning..
I had a bath at 8pm but that seemed to stop the
contractions, so I got out again, After outrageous fortune I
decided to have a nap and we decided DH would stay a bit
longer, cos I didnt want to call him back again (and he had
a comfy laZboy)
I woke at 12.00 with a proper contraction! at last something
was happening the contractions were finally lasting a minute
and were definately painful. DH ran the bath for me again
and I hung out in there for an hour or so, I tried to get
out of the bath a few times, but wasnt coping with the gap
between contractions, so back I went. DH was worried about
me and found the hospital midwife who told me nothing was
happening and to get back in the bath. I was able to rest
really well in between contractions in the bath, and even
fell asleep a few times!
AT 3am I asked Carlo to get the Midwife but again the
hospital midwife arrived, felt my tummy during a contraction
and told me I was hours away - I was so disappointed and
quite scared at this point.
I stayed in the bath till 5am when I told Carlo to go and
ring my Midwife and I wasnt taking no for an answer - I
wanted an EPI!! Midwfie arrived about 6am, and I was really
scared she would tell me nothing was happening - but instead
I was 5-6cm dilated. I decided to try the gas first and she
broke my waters. They were full of meconium (old stuff she
thought) which meant I needed to stay attached to the CTG
and the bed. I was offered an EPI at this point but the gas
was SOOO good I declined.
At 8.30 the OB checked me and suggested syntocnin because
although I was having good contractions, there were quite
large gaps between them,and the baby's heartrate kept
dropping (although it kept recovering very well also!) at
9am I was ready to push! finally.
At 10.30 I was still pushing, and although we were making
progress, they were getting concerned about bubs heartrate
which continued to drop and recover so they set up the
ventouse equipment and then bubs recovered and they decided
to wait and see.I continued pushing and things were going ok
- time flew really and about 12.00 they again thought they
would need to do the ventouse and again decided to wait and
see! in the end I almost begged them to do it - the OB asked
me how I was feeling - EXHAUSTED - 3 hours of pushing!! and
all on 1 hours sleep. so off they went - it involved an
episiotomy and was bloody painful. I threw the gas away at
this point - just couldnt concentrate on breathing it in,
kept exhaling instead, so at this point I screamed instead!
that felt good.
At 12.32 on the 3rd of October, out he came - little James
Anthony weighing in at 9lb2oz, 54 cm long and with a 39cm
head. I was on cloud 9 the second they passed him to me!
then they took him to check agpars 9,10,10 so all good and
time to celebrate! James was really alert straight away and
was lifting his head up to look around.

oh and the best bits - the gas, the lemonade popsicle
between pushes and the baby in my arms! And the worst -
stirrups! yuk.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Birth of Grey Forest Walt

This is a beautiful story of a baby birthed naturally, outdoors. Just gorgeous!

Click here to read.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kysen's birth - A Surrogacy Story

This is Kylee's story of the birth of her surrogate son, who she carried, incubated, grew, and birthed for her friends who could not have another child together for medical reasons. Such an amazing thing to do for a couple!

Had a normal day - sunday at mum's for lunch altho thinking back now i guess it was quite unusual that i wasnt very hungry and i was really quite lethargic not to mention short on temper actually i spent all of sunday afternoon screeching at the kids like i was a mad woman (sorry kids mummy does love you).Went to bed early to put my feet up to watch TV and turned off everything and slept at 10.30.Woke up at 11.30 with a shocking lower back ache and the worst heartburn you could imagine!! so i got up for a wee and noticed the tiniest streak of blood on the paper but didnt get my hopes up and went back to bed.Was so excited thinking maybe this was really it (keep in mind ive never spontaniously gone into labour,had a show or had my waters rupture) i couldnt sleep and was having niggles and needing to wee every 20 mins or so.Finally at 2 i went and woke ben and said i felt unwell and maybe the baby was coming and he made me a cup of tea and we watched some stupid haunted house thing in my room till 3 but as i had no regular contractions i told him to go back to bed as i didnt think the baby would ever come.3.30 i got up yet again for a wee and YAYYYYYYY i had a small show so back to tell ben that yes baby was coming today and we needed to finish packing my bag and that we would wake the children and drive to stratford birthing centre when my contractions regulated as i didnt want to wake all the familys involved (how considerate of me) .By 4 my contractions were regular and 8-10 mins apart so i woke the kids and loaded everyone up the van for our drive and got ben to ring mum to tell her it was happening.Got to mums and the contractions were still regular but not at all painfull but yippeeee my waters broke lol just a little gush with every contraction so at ten to five mum rung the babys parents to tell them to come on in they would have a new son by the end of the day.Mum rung the midwife and told her i was now 5 mins apart and she suggested we move over to the unit due to my usually very quick births,of course we couldnt go there tho untill i had a chocolate bar and mum bought smokes so off to the all night garage first lol what a sight we must have looked all crammed in mums rav4.Got to the birthing unit and contractions were still easy.Babys parents arrived and slowly my contractions got steadily stronger and by 6.30ish i was really feeling them so with mum and babys mums assistance i had a shower (quite funny really as we were laughing at the fact i had to remove my fanny piercing before birthing),the shower helped put me into a good established labour and i felt the urge to get onto the bed.After what felt like forever those contractions hit me hard,i was so scared as the pain was like nothing i had felt before and i wanted to stay calm for my childrens sake but OMG i couldnt as i was pushing my little heart out and that baby just wasnt budging,i remember screaming that he was stuck and everybody telling me to push harder but i was just so bloody tired and seriously it was breakfast time and i couldnt understand why the midwife wouldnt let me stop and have some LOL.Finally after what seems like forever i felt the baby crowning and i felt him jam on my wee hips and pelvis and to make it worse i crapped myself (oh the shame of it) i kept pushing but his head just wasnt moving and the pain got so bad i saw my life flash before my eyes.With some assistance from my midwife finally his head was out but i was tired now and honestly didnt understand why the midwife wouldnt just pull him out (i asked her nicely) but with all my might i got his shoulders out and it was welcome to the world baby!!!!! his mum caught him but then he was chucked onto my tummy by the midwife and a sheet put over him i was sitting there thinking hang on this wasnt the plan,i dont want him.I lifted the sheet and saw he was blue and purple and i was thinking OMFG hes dead,after close to a minute and alot of slaps finally he cried and i was so relieved.His dad cut his cord and baby was given to me and i was told *here kylee give your baby to his mum* ,I must say handing that screaming huge bundle of baby to his mum was the most surreal thing you could imagine,she was crying and shaking so much she could barely take him from me she kept repeating thankyou over and over and the look of love and understanding she gave me will forever be imprinted on my mind.Our stay at the unit was nice,day 1 was great and the parents friends and family spoilt me rotten,day 2 i had a few tears but nothing major.Day 3 saw me standing outside at 3.20am in the cold sobbing where nobody could hear me,erratic thoughts running through my mind and the urge to go and get that baby out of his crib and run away with him was so strong that i went inside and sought out the company of the night nurse,all i wanted was to hold my baby and tell him that i love him.Day 4 was goodbye day and i woke feeling blue knowing i was saying goodbye not goodbye forever but i knew from that day on i would no longer be his mum,i avoided holding him and just watched him till mum arrived to collect me.I packed my stuff and told mum ok its time to go now and stood in my room looking thru to his room where he was sleeping and realised i just couldnt say goodbye and then i broke down infront of everybody and that was the last thing i wanted to do,i knew when i was carrying him it would be hard but this was torture i was leaving the unit without my 4th child,my 4 day old son!.Walking out those doors is the hardest thing i have ever done.Everyday his parents thank me for giving them the child that they would never have had but everyday i thank them for trusting me to grow and nurture their child in my womb.This has been an amazing experience for myself and my family and friends and yes i would do it again in a heartbeat,it was a hard birth and has been hard on me mentally but thats 2 small negatives out of the billions of positives i have gained,my family has extended greatly and hey ive got a baby i dont have to get up with in the night or change crappy nappies lol.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Kellie's birth

I was booked in to have some professional photos taken of my 38 week pregnant belly at 7.30pm on Thursday 26th July 2007, so I started getting ready at 6.00pm. I did my make-up and was in the middle of blow-drying my hair in the bathroom when I felt a warm gush in my pants and knew that it was my waters breaking. It was about 6.15pm, and I was 38 weeks 1 day pregnant. I moved quickly towards the toilet and called out excitedly to Jonny and we stood staring at each other in disbelief that this was actually going to happen. I also had my bloody show whilst on the loo, and started to have a bit of diarrhoea. Jonny called to cancel the photography session, and also the plumber who was booked in for the following morning.

I quickly realised that all my toiletries and overnight things that I would need for the hospital were at my parents place because I had been staying there during Jonny’s graveyard shifts, as I was nervous about going into labour while he wasn’t there. So we decided to go and get some takeaways for dinner and pop into mum and dads to pick up my overnight gear. They were surprised and excited to see us, and we sat together watching the final of Greys Anatomy and I finished knitting the final three rows of my baby-blanket. Contractions started while we were at mum and dads but were only very minor, and the diarrhoea continued. We started writing the times down anyway, and I lost my mucous plug just before 9pm.

When we arrived home I took two Panadol and hopped into bed, thinking I might as well try and get some sleep before we needed to go to the hospital. Because I had previously tested positive for group b strep, we knew that no matter where I was at with contractions, I would need to be at the hospital by 6am to have IV antibiotics.

By 11.15pm I started writing down the timings of the contractions again as I could feel things really picking up pace. By 11.33 I was on my hands and knees rocking my hips through the contractions, which were lasting 40-45 seconds and coming between three and six minutes apart. Not long after midnight Jonny decided to ring the hospital to find out when I should consider coming in for the IV antibiotics, even though I wasn't quite at the point the midwife had indicated (3-5 mins apart and lasting for a minute). It turned out that my midwife was already there for another delivery, so we went straight in. The time was 12.32am. I only had a couple of contractions in the car, and was beginning to wonder if the labour had stopped. At one stage I noticed Jonny was driving in a 50km zone at about 80km an hour and I thought that we would have a good excuse if we were stopped by the Police.

On arrival at the Te Henga ward at Waitakere Hospital, I was admitted and put on the CTG monitor for 20 minutes and told I was only in early labour and to expect a long night. I had to stay flat on my back for the CTG monitoring and I found this much more uncomfortable than being able to go on my hands and knees. I did try to turn over whilst still on the monitor but it stopped picking up the baby’s heartbeat so I had to go back on my back. I threw up at 1.30am.

My midwife, Frann, was attending another delivery so it seemed to take forever before she came in to see me. She put the antibiotic in at 3am after 2 failed attempts at finding a vein, and then she went home to try and get some rest. The student midwife, Kylie, popped in a couple of times as well, but she also went home to get some sleep. The hospital midwife, Denise, took over my care and pretty much left me to it, only popping in once or twice to give me a heat pack and check how things were going. At some stage she also told me how to breathe properly through the contractions which was a great help. Before she left Frann had said I could have some pethidine if I wanted it and I remember asking Jonny at one stage when they were going to offer me gas, but no-one ever did.

By 4am I was incredibly uncomfortable and felt a lot of pressure to push, so I called for the hospital midwife, Denise, who told me not to push yet as I wasn’t ready and could actually slow things down. I had to persuade to do an internal examination to check my progress - she was reluctant and still thought I wasn't contracting hard enough (I have NO IDEA where she got this idea!!!). Anyway she did the internal and discovered I was 9cm dilated so she rushed off to prepare the delivery equipment and call Frann back in. Jonny called my mum, and they both arrived at about 4.30-4.45am. If the internal had revealed I was only a few centimetres dilated, I might have considered other options for pain-relief as the pain of the contractions was very bad and I didn’t know how much longer I could stand it.

I started pushing at 4.40am and Frann was very encouraging and told me how to push. During this stage I couldn’t feel the contractions as strongly, but found that pushing was actually much harder work physically. Frann and Jonny were at the business end and could both see the babys hair and commented how dark it was. Mum was at my head administering a cold flannel, and at some point asked if I wanted a mirror so I could see as well, and I agreed. I actually found this really helpful with the pushing, as I could see my progress. Mum was encouraging me to have the baby at 5.19am as that is the same time that I was born, and we joked that I was inefficient with my pushing when 5.19 passed.

Kellie Grace was born at 5.23am on Friday 27th July, weighing 3250g, a little under 7lb3oz. Jonny caught her head as it came out, with Frann’s hands on the outside of his, and he pulled her body out by himself. I had asked mum to have the camera ready to take photos as soon as she arrived, and I found myself grabbing the camera out of her hands and taking the first photos myself. I couldn’t believe how small she was and how much dark hair she had. Her umbilical cord was HUGE.

After only a couple of minutes Frann told me to push again as the placenta was coming. Mum at this stage phoned my sister in London and broke the news to her that her niece had been born. She was on the phone when Jonny cut the umbilical cord, and she heard Kellie crying and cried herself.

Kellie was placed on my chest straight away, and I gave her her first cuddles. She was tiny and all covered in vernix and blood but I didn’t care. After a few minutes Frann told me I had to give her to Jonny while she stitched up my ripped perinium. The stitches hurt like heck and I don’t know if the local anaesthetic actually had any effect. At 6.00am we gave her her first feed, and she had her check-up, a clean-up and vitamin k injection.

I do remember feeling strangely empowered and elated that I had given birth WITHOUT DRUGS and without intervention. It is hugely satisfying to know that you have accomplished giving birth to another human being and you’ve done it in the most natural way possible. I was also so proud of Jonny for his support and love he showed during the whole labour, he was just fantastic and I only had to tell him off once for offering me food when I clearly had other things to think about!

Kellie wasn’t given a name until 9am, as we had to narrow it down from four or five choices that we had. I had a shower and got into a hospital gown, and at some stage my dad arrived to meet his granddaughter, and he walked into the room and burst into tears.

The midwives told us that the maternity ward was fully booked so we would have to stay in the delivery room until we were ready to transfer to the birthing unit at Helensville. This suited us fine, as we were able to spend the whole morning with our new daughter without having to move around. Jonny’s parents and niece also arrived to visit, and so did our friend and her 8 week old son.

Getting Kellie into her capsule turned into a bit of a drama (we couldn’t figure out how to adjust the straps), and even though we were allowed to leave Waitakere at midday, it was closer to 2pm when we finally left. We stayed at Helensville for 3 nights and they were fabulous, providing round-the-clock care and help with feeding. Jonny was allowed to stay for the first two nights, although their policy is usually only the first night for partners.

We came home on Monday 30th July and are settling nicely into a routine with our new addition. Welcome Kellie Grace, we can’t imagine life without you!

“Before you were conceived, I wanted you,
Before you were born, I loved you,
Before you were here an hour, I would die for you.
This is the miracle of life”

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Birth of Aidan Michael

The Birth of Aidan Michael

Having already had 3 Cesareans, the last one being a homebirth transport, I was at a loss for what to do in the way of birth plans with this pregnancy. What I really was hoping for was to find someone who could take a look at my medical records with me (including mention of my ‘markedly thin lower uterine segment’, my ‘narrow pubic arch’, my ‘single-sutured uterine closure’, my ‘incisional hernia’ and whatever else labels I had worried myself about) and talk with me about the risks and the benefits of having another Cesarean vs. having a homebirth. I spent a lot of hours praying and asking God to please instill in me the wisdom to know what His will was for this birth and this baby. I quickly ruled out a hospital vbac, knowing that it wasn’t an environment where I could labor effectively or feel comfortable in; therefore, I really wasn’t interested in pursuing it as an option. This left me with the options of having another Cesarean or birthing my baby at home. I called around, talked to various midwives, and got a referral to a DEM who had gone back to osteopathic school to become a doctor, opened her own birth center, and still did home births as well (along with having a family practice). She was in a very rural community 3 hours away and I decided to make the trek down to see her. The minute I met her, it was an instant “click” and I knew that I wanted her involved in my birth in some capacity. As she listened to the stories of my previous Cesareans, she said to me with tears in her eyes, "There is nothing wrong with your pelvis, your uterus, or any other part of your body. What you need is to be left alone while you labor. You need to feel free to do whatever you need to do without anyone watching you. Your assignment is to figure out what you need in order to feel uninhibited and to birth this baby." I thought a lot about that in the subsequent months, and came to realize that she had hit the nail on the head, and what I needed in order to feel safe was to be left alone to do the work of labor, to not feel watched, or timed, or scrutinized in any way. I also knew that I definitely wanted Sarita to be a part of this journey, so I hired her, knowing that she could only come if it was on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I interviewed several other midwives in the area. I ended up hiring another midwife, Donna, as my primary attendant. The thing that most attracted me to her was that her philosophy could really be summed up in two words: Birth Works. I don’t think I have ever met another person who believes this as wholly and adamantly as Donna does. Funny thing is, from the time I hired them, I always had a feeling that neither of them would be there for the actual birth, but was hiring them for what they might be able to provide me along the way.

I woke up around 3:40am on April 3 to use the bathroom and found that my pajama pants were soaked and so was the bed. “Hmmm… that’s strange,” I thought. I wondered if my water had broken or if I was maybe having some weird dream about going to the bathroom and peed on myself. “But that is a LOT of liquid; I really don’t think I would pee my pants.” So I got up and walked to the bathroom and nothing was leaking out, and after all it was still another 5 days before my due date. I was expecting to go somewhere between 41-42 weeks like last time. So I changed my pants, laid a towel down on the bed and tried to go back to sleep. But I was soon hit with a pretty big contraction. I glanced at the clock and 5-6 minutes later, another one hit. They continued coming fairly regularly but were only lasting about 30 seconds. “Oh NO! Just like last time!” I thought and I started to cry, thinking this was surely the result of another malpositioned baby, even though I had worked so hard, and tried so hard to get this baby into the right position. I decided to go downstairs and read a couple of my most inspirational birth stories that I had saved for such an occasion. As I got up, a huge gush of fluid came out. Okay, now I knew I didn’t pee my pants that time. So I went to the computer room, and instead of reading birth stories, I decided I’d better finish the assignments I had due for school that week. I started typing term papers, breathing through contractions, and doing laundry all at once (such is the life of a mom I suppose). The contractions continued on for another 2 hours or so and when Steve got up for work, I told him that “today is the day” and he began setting up the birthing tub and cancelling meetings and such. Shortly thereafter, my contractions completely stopped. They didn’t just space out or become less intense. They were totally GONE! But I was actually thankful for the break, as it would allow me time to get the kids to school, get my assignments dropped off, and get some last minute errands done before labor geared up.

I called Donna and also Sarita (knowing that she wouldn’t be able to make it since it was a Tuesday, but still wanted to let her know what was going on). Donna advised me to try to get some rest and eat well for what was to come. Nothing. Not another contraction all day long!! So I went to bed that night a bit discouraged and disappointed. I prayed that God would give me patience and faith to make it through this time of uncertainty. If there was one thing I didn’t prepare for it was PROM. I had worked on issues in my mind, such as going postdates, posterior baby, back labor, etc. etc. But never PROM; it just never entered my mind. I thought as long as I had maintained excellent nutrition, which I had, then my amniotic sac would be super strong, and my labor would surely not start with ROM. Wrong! So what could I do? I went on about my day as usual, then settled into bed early that night. Around 3am, I was awakened by a contraction, followed 5 minutes later by another, and another. They weren’t the kind that you can just ignore or sleep through. These required all of my attention and so I got up, got onto the birth ball and breathed and moaned. Steve heard me and woke up, asking what he could do. I told him I wanted him to get some sleep because we may have a long road ahead of us (little did I know). The contractions continued on for about 3 hours. And as the sun came up, they stopped, not another one.

I was still leaking fluid and it was filled with white substance, which I couldn’t figure out what it was, worried that perhaps I had a yeast infection or something. Donna came that afternoon and when I showed her the pad, she told me “That’s vernix.” “Vernix? From my baby?” Somehow this notion was just so exciting to me!! It meant there was really a baby in there. S/he seemed so close now that I was seeing his/her vernix. Wow!! Donna checked my vital signs, fetal heart tones, etc. and everything looked perfect. “Well, it certainly won’t be long now.” she said as she left. I look online to find that 90% or something like that of women go into active labor within 72hours of their water breaking, if left alone. That was so exciting and I began to wonder if it would be this afternoon, or tonight, or maybe even tomorrow. I asked my friend Clare & her husband to come stay in our basement until the birth, as she was my chiropractor / acupuncturist / photographer / moral support for the birth and I didn’t plan on doing it without her there! So the 72 hours passed and I was faced with what to do. Do I attempt to nudge things to get started? Sex is out, swimming is out, warm baths are out…ugh! Donna showed up on Thursday with a big bottle of castor oil, “just in case” I wanted to get things going. Was she starting to worry? Starting to doubt? It didn’t sound like it by her words, but why then, did she bring that castor oil with her? I decided that she just must not be used to patient women, and wanted me to have options. So I sat it up on top of the refrigerator, where I would take it down and look it over from time to time, but I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted. I was monitoring my pulse, temperature, and blood pressure every few hours during the day, as well as monitoring the baby’s heart rate and everything was perfect, solid as a rock. As I would pray for guidance, I would realize that I truly was okay with waiting, and Donna was okay too.

I continued to trudge along, day after day, wishing I had told NO ONE about my broken water, not even Donna or Steve or Clare. If I hadn’t, they would just be looking at me like a normal 40 weeks pregnant woman, but instead I felt like they were looking at me like a “watched pot” all of a sudden (which they all swear was my perception, not their feelings). Each night I would have regular contractions and each morning they would disappear. . On Friday afternoon I had my first (and only) bout of “daylight contractions” and they were incredibly strong, and all in the front around my scar area. This did worry me a bit at first, but soon I began to welcome them and to be thankful that at least it wasn’t all back labor like last time. Sarita came to spend the weekend with me that weekend, and she seemed okay with everything. I really think she thought I was going to have a baby that weekend; I was hopeful that I would too. It was Easter weekend. We had fun, pretending to be on a mountain vacation, talked a lot about my hopes and fears and worries and it was incredibly therapeutic. But…she left and still no baby. I still felt okay with waiting for this baby to emerge when the time was right.

I figured that Monday’s middle of the night labor episode would be the one that turned out to be the “real thing”, since the kids would be back in school from their spring break and I could concentrate on laboring. I was going on a week now with ruptured membranes, and had moments of complete panic and worry, but when I would stop and really sit with things for awhile and ask what I was being called to believe, I would have a real sense of peace that all was okay. It was a strange peace that I have never had about anything before. In the moments when I felt weak and was ready to take herbs, or drink the castor oil, or do the nipple stimulation, I would stop and ask myself if it was really the right path for me, and get a resounding NO. So I wouldn’t do it. The waiting was SO hard though, but still I was okay with waiting. At the times that I would be ready to give up and go sign in at the local hospital for a c/section, I would get a kind word or email, or showing of support from someone that would keep me going and remind me of what I was waiting for. The greatest gift from this experience was that I was able to see a hint of my strength even before “real” labor began. I was able to really get in touch with my body and what my needs and wishes were during all of this. I did do a lot of acupuncture in those days to get the baby lined up optimally, to keep me calm and in a good space, and to get my body prepared for a smoother, gentler labor when it did kick in.

The days went by slowly, each one longer than the one before. I was vigilant about monitoring my wellbeing, and the baby’s. I began to take antibiotics as a preventative measure, going into the second week. I haven’t ever been a big fan of antibiotics, but their use seemed prudent to me as the days wore on. I think this was the only hint of “intervention” I had during the process. I was beginning to grow impatient, but still I knew that waiting was better than any of the alternatives.

Saturday, April 14 rolled around, and while it seemed to be much like the previous 11 days, there was also something distinctly different about it, about me that day. The peace I’d been feeling for the previous weeks seemed to have dissipated; I was CRANKY! I was irrational, unreasonable, and just beside myself. I was thoroughly finished with being pregnant, was certain that this baby was just not going to come out without being cut out, and that I was surely broken. As Clare tried to convince me otherwise, and coax me onto the treadmill, or into some other sort of movement or motion to elevate my mood, I lost it. I told her how “I have done everything within my power to get this baby into a good position and try to get it to want to be born. I have done chiropractic and acupuncture every week for the past 9 months. I have meditated, I have visualized, I’ve talked to the baby, I’ve exercised faithfully, I’ve done OFP so much my knees are bruised, I just can’t to anymore. I can’t listen to you blaming me for not doing enough! I have had it. I am DONE! I am just DONE!! Why can’t you just admit that I am BROKEN? It is time for me to just throw in the towel and admit that my body is broken! My pelvis is messed up and I can’t birth this baby!” and with that I stomped off in a rage. All the while, she is going on about how that is not the truth and that she is NOT going to accept it, how I *know* it is not the truth and for me to stop sulking, snap out of it, and get back to focusing on truth.

After taking the afternoon off from everyone and spending the great majority of it sobbing and wailing and lamenting of how I was tired of being pregnant, I managed to pull it together that evening and went to church with the family. It was a nice service with songs that seemed to be chosen especially for me. I was able to ground myself once again and start to capture some of the peace that I felt was trying to elude me. By the end of the service around 8:00, I had made amends with my body, and had decided once again that everything was okay, that things were happening on the timetable they needed to be on and that I was okay to be pregnant for another few days, at least until after Tuesday, the new moon, and then I would re-evaluate (for some reason, it helps me to just take things a few days at a time). About 2 ½ hours later, around 10:30 while I was sitting in the living room talking with Steve and Clare, I was nailed with a contraction. “Oh boy, here we go again,” I thought, as it seemed that my stop-start labor was going to start again tonight, albeit earlier than usual. The contractions were coming every six minutes or so apart and were requiring my attention. They continued on as they had over the previous “labor episodes” in their pattern of 5-6 minutes apart, yet only lasting about 30 seconds each.

Around 1:00am, everyone decided to go to bed and I thought it would probably be best if I got some sleep too “just in case” this ended up lasting awhile. As soon as I lay down, however, the contractions became almost unbearable. I needed to be up on my feet and moving my hips to cope with them. So I got up and put on my MP3 player, already loaded with all of the music I had chosen for this labor. I started walking around the bedroom, lying over the birth ball between contractions. After a few more, I went downstairs and spent the next hour or so “dancing” through the contractions. At one point, I decided that I felt nauseous and it seemed like a good idea to force myself to throw up (ugh!). It actually did make me feel better, for whatever reason and I went back to the work of laboring. It was a beautiful spring night, so I decided to go out on the front porch and I wrapped up in a blanket on the wicker furniture. I would stand up during a contraction and move my hips around in large circles or figure 8’s, and turn up the “labor music” and breathe and moan as I felt the surge overtake me. Then between the contractions, I would turn the music off and sit quietly, enjoying the sound of the crickets and the brightness of the moon. I think it was at some point during my time outside that I realized “I think I might actually be in labor this time. It’s been over four hours now, and things do not seem to be going away, but getting more intense.” As soon as that thought entered my mind, an instant excitement filled the air, and I was almost giddy with anticipation. Here I was in the stillness of the night, laboring alone in peace and working beautifully through each of these contractions! It was as if I was dreaming and I started to cry & think to myself, “I have waited for so many years for this moment and it’s finally here!!”

As I stepped up the step to go back inside, I could literally feel the baby’s head moving down lower into my pelvis and feel my pelvic bones slowly stretching apart. The contractions became even more intense and immediately went to about 3 minutes apart. I started to feel a little panic rain over me, as I attempted to work through the contractions by holding on to a ledge in our kitchen that is about chest high and then letting my body just kind of “hang” from my arms. I was thinking back to how, in my last labor I wanted to be constantly leaning forward, whereas this time leaning forward was painful. I had to be upright, or almost leaning back, moving my hips around the entire time in order for the contractions to feel “right” (albeit VERY intense), rather than painful. I was thinking how some support would probably feel really nice right now, but I didn’t think I could make it up the stairs to wake Steve. So I continued on like this for…no idea how long…I’m guessing another hour or so, with thoughts of how thankful I was that the contractions were so much more in my front than in my back. I was certain now that this was the real deal and that sometime today I would meet my baby, although I was figuring it would probably be somewhere around dinner time.

Finally, at the end of a contraction (which now had gotten to be about 2 minutes apart), I literally bolted up the stairs as fast as my hugely pregnant self could carry me before another contraction hit. I burst into my bedroom and yelled “Steve, I’m in labor! Get up NOW!” Poor guy, a bit of a rude awakening for 3:45 in the morning!! I told him, “I think you’d better call Donna and let her know the contractions are 2 minutes apart, but only lasting about 45 seconds.” So he did, as I focused on a contraction and making it through, telling myself that it was the last one I would have to do without his support. “Donna wants to know if you are ready for her to come now.” “No, I just wanted her to be aware,” I said, surprising myself a bit by this response. So he hung up the phone and said, “She said okay, but please call back whenever they start lasting longer, or you feel like you are ready for her. She will come whenever you need her.” He then got to work filling up the birth tub, and I ordered him over to put pressure on my sacrum. “Harder…lower…2 hands…” I bark, as the contraction begins to feel as though it will consume me. After the contraction, he goes back to his work with the birthing pool, but no sooner does he get started that another contraction hits. “Steve, my back, please!” (Much to my (& everyone else’s) surprise, I was a very polite laborer). “LOWER! 2 HANDS! Horizontal, not vertical!” (direction of his hands). It was all I could do to eek out little 1-2 word phrases to express my needs at this point. This became our routine, he would press on my back, I would rotate my hips & do this strange thing with my arms, where I would shake them really fast through the contraction. Then it would end, he would go back to his ‘birth tub’ work and I would rest for a minute or so until the next contraction hit and we would slip back into our routine again. My state of mind seemed to be sort of hypnotic, where I became unaware of nearly everything around me, other than the powerful sensations coming through my body.

We continued on with the routine for probably 15-20? contractions, at which point I announce, “Uh oh!! I really am going to be sick!” and I rushed to the bathroom and started throwing up WHILE having a contraction. This was the only time during labor that I worried my uterus might rupture. There was such an incredibly strong, painful force seemingly going in 2 different directions in my body, with the vomiting and the contraction. It was almost more than I could take. After the contraction ended, I told Steve “I think you’d better call Donna back and tell her I’m throwing up. They say that can mean transition, but I’m sure I’m not in transition yet.” So he called her back and she said she would leave right away and be there in an hour. I then asked Steve to go down to the basement and wake Clare to come up. While he was gone, I had 2 more contractions that I had to find a way to cope with on my own, without our routine. I decided to sit on the toilet through those contractions and do the arm shaking thing (still no idea why I did this, but it felt right at the time). Those 2 contractions felt very ‘forced’ to me because I wasn’t able to swivel my hips the way I needed to. I was so relieved when he came back into the room and Clare too, and quickly got back into the routine over in the corner by my side of the bed, in a space so small that Steve could barely fit in there with me. But that is where I felt comfortable and secure. I would look around to make sure Clare was still in sight, grab hold of Steve, place my right leg up on this stool, keep my left knee on the ground, swivel my hips, shake my arms, and have Steve pressing firmly on my sacrum. My mind was just filled with such a feeling of strength and triumph and anticipation already, interspersed with moments of fear and doubt. “I can’t believe this is happening. I am doing this work of birthing my baby!” I would think, followed by “There is no way I can do this for much longer. The intensity of this is just ridiculous. Why would anyone want to do this?” As soon as I would begin to entertain such thoughts, I could feel Steve’s strong, protective hands back on my body in just the right way to re-center me and re-affirm that all is well.

Around an hour or 2 after we made the 4:30am call to Donna, the doorbell rang and a few moments after that, Ruth (the back up midwife) appeared at my bedroom door. “Why is she here? Where is Donna? What is going on?” were thoughts all running through my mind, but I wasn’t coherent enough to verbalize anything or really even to care much. I continued to stay deep, deep inside myself, deeper than I had ever gone before, doing this incredibly intense, difficult work. I later found out that Donna’s road had been flooded and she was having a hard time getting out of her driveway. Ruth asked how I was feeling and I gave her a look and a grunt. She started talking with Clare about what had been going on, how long, etc. etc. and I just pointed at them both and screamed, to which my loving husband translates into, “If you two want to talk, you need to step outside the door. She doesn’t want you talking right now.” I nod my head “yes that is right. Thank you.” and we got back to business.

It was strange really, looking back. Before Ruth arrived, I had no conscious awareness of anyone else in the room, or even the world. I had this concentrated belief that this was all within me, I was the ONLY one who could do this job. But then when she arrived, I began to get sidetracked and a bit panicky. I started looking to her to save me or something, asking her “Am I okay? Is everything alright?” to which she would reply, “Do you think you’re okay? Do you feel like everything’s alright?” and when I would ask, “What if I need to go to the hospital?”, she would reply “Do you feel like you need to go to the hospital?” and unfailingly turn all of my doubts and fears back onto me, and force me to go even deeper within myself and trust my instincts, to which I would immediately get an answer, “Of course I’m okay. I am birthing my baby” or “No, I don’t need to go to the hospital. Drugs sound mighty nice right now, but I am doing just fine without them.” At some point, Steve made the crazy suggestion that I might be more comfortable up on my bed for a few contractions (I think *he* would be more comfortable with me on my bed LOL). Up I went for one horrendous, terrifying, excruciating contraction. I started just SCREAMING! (up to this point, I had been moaning and making beautiful birth sounds during the contractions). After it ended, I couldn’t get off of that bed and back into my corner quickly enough. Then Ruth started blathering something about a blood pressure cuff, to which I snapped “Don’t know where it is. DON’T CARE!!”

At one point during my laboring, I could hear some rattling sounds over top of my music…the sound of a sterile glove being unwrapped. My body clinched up, I turned off the music, and I started crying like a big baby, “Oh please PLEASE no! I don’t WANT a vaginal exam. If it shows that I’m not making any progress, I will be SO disappointed. Please no!” Ruth answered, “Teresa, I’m not doing a vaginal exam. You sound very ‘pushy’ and I just want to place my hand down there underneath you to make sure there’s not a baby about to fall out onto the ground.” Uh…did she say “pushy”? Did she mean…does this mean…nah, can’t be…I don’t get to pushing. My body is broken and I give in way before any pushing starts. Fast forward another, probably 5? minutes or so (I had/have no concept of time whatsoever in this birth…I only know what time the first contraction came, what time everyone went to bed, and the times that I woke Steve up and had him call Donna, thanks to the phone bill). So 5 or so minutes later, I heard the crinkly sound again overtop of my music, “What are you doing? No! No exams! I am probably not dilating at all and I can’t hear that news. Please!! Please!!” I say, figuring I will only be setting myself up for huge disappointment. Again, she assured me that “Of course you’re dilating, you are pushing!” and she placed her hand underneath me to see if there is a baby head hanging halfway out because I sound like I’m pushing at the end of each contraction & it is impossible for another person to get back into this tiny space I’m in, particularly in this peculiar position with one leg up on the stool, one knee on the ground.

After that contraction, she asked if I would be willing to move out to the middle of the room, or into the birthing tub, or somewhere else (she is seeing that birth is imminent; I am not seeing it). “No, I like it here. I want to stay here.” Steve then picked up the stool I’d been leaning on and said “Come on, T. We’ll go to my side of the bed. There’s more room over there.” And so up I go. As I got halfway around the bed, I have a contraction in the middle of the room. It’s terrible, painful, scary! I feel so exposed and vulnerable! As soon as it ends, I rushed back into a corner on his side of the bed (which does have more space, but not much), “assume the position” that I have become so fond of, and turned my back to everyone else in the room. About that time, this unbelievable, out-of-nowhere, extraterrestrial-feeling compulsion invades every cell of my body and I feel every single inch of myself start to push and heave and thrust and work and groan. What on earth? And then a small voice inside my head says “Hey, I wonder if I’m pushing?” (Okay…so I’m a bit slow to figure things out).

I put my hand down and reach inside my and I feel the most indescribable, inexpressible, utterly beyond words sensation that my fingertips have ever felt. There it was, no more than an inch or 2 inside my body, my baby’s head. My. baby’s head. It was at that moment that I believed, wholly believed, for the first time since the scalpel made its first cut eleven years earlier, that I was going to give birth to my baby. I was capable, my body was perfectly made, my pelvis was adequate, my uterus was strong, and my baby was about to be born. I was suspended in this hazy, quasi-reality…the moment froze and a flood of emotions just rolled over me. I was caught between wanting to just stop everything right there and savor this most miraculous experience that I have ever been a part of and wanting to push with everything I had in me to get this baby out here and kiss his/her beautiful face and touch that squishy head with my chin and my lips and hold him/her close to me.

Eventually the latter won out and I started pushing with another contraction, all the while thinking “Well, I am almost 100% sure this baby is going to come out my butt. But there is not a thing I can do about it, but get it out.” I was remembering other women’s similar experiences on the ICAN list about pushing being “shockingly rectal” or something like that, and that gave me some comfort, but mostly I just felt like I didn’t really care if it did decide to come out my butt. Again, I put my hand down there and felt that amazing baby head, and someone asks “What are you doing? Why are you putting your hand down there?” “Because, there is a baby right there. It’s about to be born.” At this proclamation, the scurrying began, grabbing cameras and blankets and getting in position to hopefully get a hand on this baby, although as the midwife said, this had to have been the most difficult position for her to get in there and catch the baby, and to which I replied, “I really was unconcerned with your comfort or ease at that point.”

I laid my head down and rested and maybe even dozed for a few minutes while waiting for the next contraction. It was so quiet and so surreal to me right then. There was nowhere else in the world I would want to be, nowhere in the world was anything as important going on as this undertaking right here. As the contraction began to build, I raised my head, gathered up every ounce of anything I had and gave a huge push and felt this incredible sensation of the slippery, squishy head sliding through and out of my body, followed by the body. I looked up in my foggy haze and asked “What do I do now?” to which my darling husband quickly replies, “DON’T SIT DOWN!” LOL…the baby was right under me. Ruth calmly unwrapped the cord from his neck and handed him to me. “6:56a.m.” Clare announced. So he was born after about 8 ½ hours of active labor, 20 or so total hours of some intense prodromal labor, and nearly 2 weeks of ruptured membranes. I am SO thankful that it happened the way that it did and I got a lot of the ‘work’ out of the way as I went along. And also so thankful that I never had a vaginal exam so I never knew whether to be excited, frustrated, discouraged, etc. other than what my body told me to be.

I took him in my arms and the first thing I did was to thank him, “Thank you, thank you so much for doing this with me baby.” Then I turned to my husband and I have never seen such a look of awe and admiration and love in anyone’s eyes as I did in his at that moment, which probably mirrored what he say in mine. We just sat there for a moment and looked into each other’s eyes as I proclaimed, “We DID IT!!!! I did it!! I just pushed a baby out of my vagina. I really did it! I just can’t believe I did it!” I looked up and noticed another midwife, Martha, sitting by us. I didn’t even know she was there. Apparently she had arrived about 5-10 minutes before the birth. I continue to just ooh and aah and kiss and squeeze my baby and then it occurred to me that I had been calling the baby, “Baby Boy”. I didn’t even look to see if it was a boy. Oh no, what if it’s a girl, will she be traumatized? I quickly unwrapped the blanket and took a quick peek, “Oh, I KNEW you were a boy!!” and I started sobbing and just praising God with sheer joy and disbelief in my heart.

Someone helped me up onto the bed and I just laid there staring at my baby, all nestled up against my skin. I felt so warm and so full, so complete. Someone woke up the older kids, and my second son Evan came in and hopped up on the bed with us, meeting his new baby brother and having an image of ‘normal birth’ forever etched into his mind. About 20-30 minutes after the birth, Donna arrived and I got up and pushed out the placenta, got cleaned up a bit and hopped back into bed, where Clare soon served me the most delicious breakfast I have ever eaten in my entire life, of eggs, bacon, French toast, orange juice, etc. and I devoured every morsel of it. We chatted a bit with the midwives, to which one of my first questions to all of them was “What made you guys decide to take a chance on me? Why did you ever think I could do it?” and to which they each gave a variation of the same reply, “Of course you could do it. Why WOULDN’T we think you could do it?” Simple as that.

Please click here for a slideshow.. and to see the beautiful little boy himself. (email address if you would like to email Teresa directly).