Baby Bumps and Blessings
The Making of a Mindful Maternity
I don’t feel that my words can adequately explain how amazing and healing this experience was for our family. Having a home birth was the right decision for our family and I am so thankful my husband encouraged me. I couldn’t have done it without his support and belief.
Laboring at home felt relaxed and calm. I loved being on my own clock, listening to my body and not having to decide when to go to the hospital. At home I never doubted my ability to have a natural birth. I felt confident, supported and loved.
Monday night, September 12, 2011, Johnny got home from work, and we sat at our kitchen table and talked about our day. It was a nice quiet time together. Around 10:00 PM I went to bed. At 1:30 AM I work up with contractions that were about 20 minutes apart. I got up to move around and eat a snack to see if they were the real deal. Then I went back to sleep, the contractions continued. I got up again around 4:30 AM I ate a popsicle, then went back to sleep. The contractions continued to be about 15-20 minutes apart and did not get any stronger. The sun rose and we decided that my mother-in-law would keep Bella for the day so she would be close by. I was hoping for a baby by lunch time since I had heard your second labor should be about half the time of your first, little did I know what was in store. I went for a walk around 9:00 AM and popped by my parents’ house to say hello. Around 11:30 AM I called my midwife and told her what was going on. Labor was still going slowly and she didn’t want it to last into the evening in case I got tired from the lack of sleep, so she suggested trying nipple stimulation. With the nipple stimulation, my contractions became five minutes apart, but were not extremely strong.
We had been in contact with Susan Mooney, our doula. She came to our house about 2:30 PM and my Mom arrived around 3:00 PM. In the meantime, Johnny set up a birthing tub in our entryway the only place in our house besides the kitchen that doesn’t have carpet. He put some water in it and planned to add a little hot water when it was time to get in to raise the temperature. From 3:00-4:00 PM I took some homeopathic medicine that speeds up labor. Around 4:00 PM I felt really tired, so I ate a snack and prepared to go upstairs to take a nap. First, I had a crying spell just from looking at my Mom and Johnny giving me a hug. I tried to lay down for a few minutes, but got sick and threw up. The mood got more serious, so we called the midwife. Johnny and Susan were discussing the temperature of the tub. It was too cold which could make me cramp. Johnny started boiling water and siphoning some water out of the tub and replacing it with hot water. I almost told Johnny to stop messing with the tub, but something made me keep my mouth shut. Most of the time I was laboring in our living room, looking out our window over a field. It was a beautiful sunny day. The trees were green and the sky blue. The most “comfortable” position was on my knees leaning over our ottoman. Early on I sat on the birth ball, but as labor continued that was very uncomfortable and greatly increased the pressure in my rear end.
Around 5:30 PM the midwife arrived. She brought in her equipment, checked the baby’s heart rate (it was good) and my cervix. She said the cervix was paper thin and I was 5-6 centimeters dilated. My thought was, “What? Are you kidding me? It took 16 hours to be 5-6 centimeters.” I almost cried. Susan quickly suggested that I get in the tub. Johnny had finally gotten the water to the right temperature. Susan could tell I was very disappointed and on the verge of frustration. Getting in the water relieved some of the pain and helped me keep my composure. I got in the tub and the contractions continued to be intense with tons of pressure in my rear end. After about 40 minutes in the tub I said, “I HAVE GOT TO PUSH!” The midwife said, “ok, push on the next contraction.” It made me feel confident that she trusted in the process and let me follow my instincts. Johnny was outside talking to a neighbor because he thought it was going to be a long time before anything happened, so Susan quickly called him inside.
For the first couple of pushes I was sitting in the tub with my back against the side which wasn’t very comfortable or effective. Johnny suggested I try getting on my hands and knees. At first I was like no (really I just didn’t want to move. I kept saying I can’t do this because it really hurts), but after another ineffective push I switched positions. On the first push I made a lot of progress and on the second the top of the baby’s head appeared. Then I had to do gentle pushes (that was super hard when you just want to get it over with, but gentle pushing can help to prevent tearing) and on the next contraction, her head emerged. The cord was around her neck so the midwife quickly flipped it off. Her head went from purple to normal color. Then another contraction and at 7:17 PM on September 13, 2011, Frances entered the world.
I sat in the tub for a few minutes and held her and we all marveled at this new little person. My mom said a prayer of thanksgiving. After the cord stopped pulsing Johnny cut it. Fran was wrapped in warm towels and I moved to the couch where the placenta was uneventfully delivered. I could not believe how easily it came out. With my first delivery, I had an inverted uterus right after the placenta came out, so I thought I would be super anxious about this, but my midwife was calm and I wasn’t the least bit nervous. While I nursed Fran, Bella came in to meet her new sister. Other members of our family joined the celebration. Frances weighed 7 lbs 14 ounces and was 21 inches long. I ate some delicious mac and cheese and went upstairs to my own bed. I was supposed to go to sleep, but I was so excited that I was awake until about midnight listening to her newborn noises. Around midnight we all fell asleep.
I cannot say enough positive things about our birth team. Our midwife and her assistant were experienced and knowledgeable. Our doula was calm and collected and helped me focus during labor. I felt like I was well taken care of and trusted that if medical intervention were needed, they would make a good decision. Sharing this special time with my mom was wonderful. I am so glad she was there to see her granddaughter enter the world.
Frances is now 4 weeks old. She is a beautiful, healthy baby. We’ve been happily busy adjusting to a new member of the family. Thanks for sharing this mindful maternity.