The Home Birth(s)

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No 1.

Birth Story for Sonja Louise Chetan

Okay, so technically, the birth was not D.I.Y. but it was much more myself than anyone else, I'm going to put it out there; home births are done by mothers as opposed to hospital births which are done by doctors.  With that said I'm not sure I could have given birth in my home without the love and support (and skills) of my midwife, Shell Walker, and of course my husband, and Tracy too- thanks so much you three!
On September 23, when I woke up at 6:30am to go on our walk I noticed my back hurt, and not just an ache or pain like I'd been experiencing earlier this month. Rather, this was like a backache similar to my period cramps that lasted for 10-15 seconds and came every 15 minutes or so?? My mom experienced back labor with my sister and myself, so I I thought my labor experience might be similar. We went on our walk with the dogs. I got dressed, went to work. I tried to focus on the tasks at hand but had to take breaks every once and a while when the pain was more distracting. I was keeping myself busy with office errands. After going to post office and starbucks I called my mom around 10am to ask her if my "symptoms" sounded like her labor. She said, "Yep, I think you should call your midwife." I didn't think it was anywhere close to the delivery time, so I was hesitant to call, I wanted to see if they got worse or went away, but finally I called midwife around 10:15 just to keep her in the loop. She said it was probably just practice labor, not to be confused with pre-labor or early labor. She reminded me that this is usually a warm up session for first time moms to get their body ready for delivery. And, for some moms it does turn into labor, but it will probably subside sometime during the day. However, she did suggest I come into her office that night around 6:30pm to check in. After talking to her, I thought it was just practice labor... my stomach hadn't dropped (or at least we hadn't noticed it) and I hadn't lost my mucus plug or anything else that happens pre-labor. So, I finished my day at work, cleaned up and prepped my desk- just in case, and headed home.
Once I was home, I told Husband I thought it was weird the cramping hadn't stopped. But we both agreed it was probably just practice since baby hadn't dropped and I hadn't lost the plug. not moments later (around 4:30) I went potty and felt an extra releasing sensation at the end- I looked in the toilet and saw the mucus plug. This is NOT nearly as gross as it sounds. It looks like dried hot glue. I made Husband look to make sure, he was not all that interested but once he saw that it wasn't gross, he was like "oh, yeah, that's what that is..." It seemed a little too real at that moment, like, oh, shit, I really am going to have to push this baby out SOON, but in an exciting, terrifying kind of way.
Anyway, Husband proceeded to make some breakfast for dinner, one of my favorite meals. He made me French toast with bananas- something I'd been craving all week, and some potatoes. It was delicious but since he made such a great meal and then had to eat it, we were actually just a bit late with meeting our midwife. No worries though, I called to give her a heads up and she's so chill, she told us to take our time, she was still seeing other clients.
At the Midwife's office, I was waiting to see her and was still getting the cramping surges, every few moments I'd have to zone out and breathe through them. She noticed this while talking with another patient, and was like, "Are you still getting symptoms??" I told her, "All day- and I lost my plug" and she replied with a simple, "oh" and smile (you would appreciate her calm sincere demeanor that isn't translatable though text).
During our meeting she asked some questions, took my vitals, listened to baby, and followed the meeting by telling me to go home, get some rest, take some calcium magnesium, drink 2 coconut waters, an apple juice, half a glass of stout beer (this is not the same as drinking throughout a pregnancy, it was to help me sleep) and call if I get more active.
Well, that didn't work so much, the surges lasted all night making me get up at least once an hour to pee and poop. I don't think I've EVER pooped so much in my life! gross, I know. But, think of my poor bottom. I had to bust out the baby wipes and A&D ointment. so uncomfortable. The cramping surges stayed in my back but had the added sensation of needing to urinate and feeling like diarrhea cramps.
At 8:41am and I was still getting the contractions. Husband stayed home to take care of me and the midwife and my mom were on their way to check in on me. I was trying to remember to eat and drink, and baby was kicking away.
When the midwife got there, she chatted with me for a bit. I was poorly dressed and my hair was disheveled. I asked her when we'd know how far I was dilated and how much longer she expected. She ended up checking me then and I was at 3 centimeters dialated and my cervix was completely effaced- which she mentioned as being the majority of work for the bodies of first time moms. She told us, we should probably have the baby that night. She was about to give me an estimated time, but she caught herself and I agreed, I didn't want to put any expectations on the labor. She left, but told us to call her once the contractions got closer together, or when I needed her for labor support, whichever happened first.
Husband and I hung out at the house, we watched some movies on the laptop in bed. We ate some lunch. I pooped, every time I peed, which was frequently. Once, when I peed, probably around noon or 1pm (I started loosing track of time) I felt a secondary gush at the end, and it looked like something else had been added to the bowl, hard to explain- not quite water but a clear-ish substance that was diluting in the bowl. I assumed it was my "water" breaking, but obviously, since I had just peed, and it was in the toilet there was no way to be sure. After that, the contractions got worse. and worse. And, around 1 or 2 I asked Husband to call the midwife.
He asked, "Are you sure?"
My polite response, "Yes, I'm Fucking sure! call her!!!"
He was like, "Okaaay."
She showed up maybe 20 minutes later (really, I have no idea... my internal clock stopped working and I was in pain management mode) I remember standing in the door frame of my bathroom pushing my back into one side and my arms into the other to relieve the pressure off my back. I was also walking around and leaning on things and moving my hips. When she got there though, she was practically able to read my mind, unlike my husband who had to ask what I needed. With Husband, I had to request my needs; not so easy when you're trying to focus and breathe through the pain. She walked in, and pushed down on my lower back applying just the right pressure, and after that surge passed; she gave me a hug and held me through my next contraction. Then, she checked me and told me I was 6cm dilated, and that my membranes ("water") had burst and that our baby had lots of hair (in my dream we had a daughter with tons of black hair).
I proceeded to have contractions and walk them out, or sit on the toilet during them. I tried doing the yoga pose; child's pose and being on all fours, something I saw in my active birthing book (a position I thought I'd love), but by the end of a surge in that position, I was sure I was going to puke-every time. So, I stuck with the walking. My midwife also had me do a marching position in which I held my tummy up to support it and march knees to stomach. It was difficult and challenging but I know she recommended it to help relive more pressure than I would have otherwise experienced. I started getting really hot and the midwife gave Husband a paper fan- which worked surprisingly well, for me. He told me the next day his arms were SOOO sore, but he would have felt like a douche, stopping because his arms hurt, all while I was pushing his baby out. That is why I married him :) Also the midwife's assistant was using a wet washcloth to keep me cool and soothed.
I was feeling so much pain and discomfort during the later contractions, after one passed (maybe around 4 or 5pm) I asked the midwife,"How long does this part of labor last?"
Her response, as calm and soothing as can be, "It lasts as long as it absolutely needs to."
Of course she would say that... always with the perfect, trust your body and don't judge it or set unnecessary exceptions for it type of answers. That's why we love her.
Anyway, in my last contractions while on the toilet; I had realized I was inadvertently pushing (or trying to poop-but nothing was happening) and so I asked her, "Well, is it okay if I start pushing?"
She told me that I could, of course, sometimes rarely moms will feel the need to push before necessary but that she could check me again and see where I'm at.
She checked and told me I had just a tiny bit of cervix left to one side and she was helping to move it out of the way. I pushed each contraction- it was the only sensation that allowed the pain to reduce enough to handle. She told me I pushed the last bit of cervix out of the way and suggested I continue pushing. I was laying on my back in the position she had checked me in. Not the position I had expected to deliver my child in. I was all about the concept of squatting or standing or hanging, using gravity to pull the baby out. But once I was laying down there was no way in hell I was going to stand up and move during a contraction (which were now overlapping each other) So with my bottom and feet at the edge of the bed and my head on pillows that were resting on Husbands lap (he was sitting crossed legged behind me) I proceeded to push. When the midwife realized I was going to deliver in this position; she had Husband remove the pillows from behind my head and lay me down flat- so I wouldn't be blocking the baby in with my coccyx (tail bone). Once, I was on my back FLAT, I continued pushing and she was moving things around allowing for baby's head to pass. I pushed and pushed, but every time I'd relax to take a break, Baby's head would slip back in.
She grabbed my hand and had me touch in between my legs, and she asked, "Do you feel that, do you know what that is?"
I wined, "It's. the. heaaad..." (p.s. touching the head in the birthing videos always grossed me out- but when it was my own baby and body, it was less "gross" more just kind of slimy- don't be surprised if during labor you do things you thought were strange, you are a different person in the moment and your body has control, don't set specific expectations, otherwise you might be disappointed when things don't go according to your plan)
In response, to me recognizing the head, she was like, yeah, so push, use your muscles to keep it here and hold it, then push again.
She asked her birth assistant to get Grandma in case we wanted pictures... but my mom can't take pictures to save her life, she didn't even have a camera. I was so far gone in labor land, I could hear them talking but couldn't tell them, "no. get my sister to take pictures instead." Plus, I didn't mind the idea of my mom being in the room. But, my mom didn't realize why she was invited into the room (no one told her it was to take pictures). So, when she came in she started talking, "oh Jenn, you're doing great... really good... great job... so close... really wonderful job..." I politely and calmly said, "No Talking" although I wanted to say, "Shut the fuck up, can't you fucking see I'm trying to push a god damn human from my vagina?!?!??!"
Early on in labor I told my husband I needed silent contractions, he was watching movies on the laptop in bed with me all day and whenever I'd get a surge I'd say, "pause." as in, "pause that movie right now or that laptop is going through the fucking wall once I'm done...' anyway, once everyone was quite I was able to focus again.
Since I was on my back, she also told me that she'd give me a few more surges but then I'd have to go to all fours or squatting if I couldn't push properly... I was in so much pain and even though laying on your back is the worst way to deliver a baby- there was no way I was going to move.
When she asked me to hold my legs up and push and I yelled, "I CAN'T" in reference to holding my legs and pushing at the same time, everyone outside of the room thought I meant, I can't do this at all... but, Husband grabbed my legs and I pushed, and held, and pushed again. I felt the pressure release (at 6:05pm) and I thought I'd have to deliver the shoulders and body, but apparently, her "little" head was so big (14 and 1/4 inches) her whole body slithered out with that one final push.
I was shocked, I said something to the effect of, "That's it? that's all? It's out?"
Then, I saw the little head. cone head. "Oh, Baby, I'm so sorry about your poor cone head." Every time I saw a newborn with a misshapen head I was like, "gross, their head looks funny, I hope my baby doesn't have a cone head..." and yet my baby did, because of me. my fault. and I felt terrible. I know, what a weird thought after just pushing it out and but I just felt bad... I went to reach for the baby and the midwife said, "oh hold on, still a little slippery," she didn't mention the fact that her umbilical cord was wrapped around her throat twice, and that while she was getting her un-slippery, she was also swiftly maneuvering the cord off her. Husband saw the cord and didn't say anything- I think they were scared to scare me. But I had so much trust in our midwife, even if I had known, I would have also known Shell could fix it, which she did. After she was done maneuvering all the fluid and cords, I realized I still didn't know if we had a boy or girl. I asked, "Wait, what is it?" or "Wait, is it a boy or girl?" something of that sort and the midwife responded; "You tell me." and held the baby up.
"Girl" I breathlessly replied with a giant smile and with that final bit of dialog she handed her to me.
Husband was crying and kissing me and Sonja; we were so happy to finally have her. Everyone else in the house rushed into our bedroom and smiled and oohed and aahed at her beautiful little face. And my sister did take pictures. lots of pictures.
I still wasn't done though. After baby comes placenta; the third stage of delivery. The Midwife noted that my cord had dropped meaning the placenta had released and that I would need to push one more time in order to deliver it. This didn't require nearly as much effort or focus, in fact, I held little Sonja in my arms and with a tiny flex of my abdomen; I felt a release. The placenta was out and Shell was offering a tour of it. She showed us all the mother side, the part that was attached to me- looks meat-y and then the baby side which was like a bag that ripped open (ruptured membranes = water breaking) and pointed out that baby lived in there for the past few months. It was amazing. Both my sister (I think) and maybe-someday-sister-in-law watched the placenta be delivered. 
Then, I was done, at least with the official delivery.
No birth goes perfect... and after maybe 10 minutes of delivering the placenta, I noticed I was still expelling liquid, I asked the midwife if this was normal (since I was covered at this point and she wasn't checking my parts any more) and she was like, "No." She checked my uterus (externally) by rubbing my abdomen to see how big it was and told me I needed to pee. Again, easier said than done. She gave me some liquid herbs (I wish I could remember what they were now...) in my orange juice and helped me to get up to go to the bathroom. I didn't. I sat there for a few minutes relaxing- but those nerve endings are so fried after birth they don't know how to work. All the while I'm bleeding (a little more than she would have liked). She offered me a squeeze bottle to administer some water in attempts to trigger a reflex but it didn't work. She gave me some more her herbs to tighten my uterus. I also tried getting Sonja to breastfeed to stimulate oxytocin production, but she was still in labor shock and not all that interested in my boobs (yet). Neither myself nor the midwife wanted me to take pitocin in order to stop the bleeding, how frustrating would it have been to go through the WHOLE labor and delivery naturally only to have to get a shot of the most over used labor drug AFTER the birth. Of course, as my midwife mentioned, we wouldn't have let our pride get in the way of my well being. LUCKILY, the herbs did kick in or the attempted breastfeeding worked, or it was the fact that I was able to get a few drizzles of pee out... somehow the bleeding did slow, and I was able to enjoy my resting time with Sonja, on the bed she was both conceived on and born on. (TMI? maybe, but how many people can say that??)
Once the bleeding issue wasn't a concern; Husband's family showed up to meet our Cupcake and take photos and I was feeling great enough to walk around and chat in the living room. We had pizza for dinner and people stayed over for a few hours. I knew I had to get some rest, but really I felt great.
It was a great experience and I was proud of my body, the body I trusted all along to deliver my baby.

No. 2

Birth Story for Vera Basil

This is the birth story for Vera Basil Born at home Monday, March 11, 2013 at 4:50-53am...

Husband and I woke up at 8:50am Sunday morning, and took a few moments to ourselves before our daughter Sonja woke up.

Sunday is my yoga morning.  After our alone time, I got up and started getting ready for my 10:30 class.  I went to the bathroom and noticed a mucus discharge {with a tint of blood}  I thought it could be the mucus plug, but last time it all came out in one chunk and this was not as big and more gooey than I expected.

I decided to go ahead and go to yoga, although I noticed I was having contractions, much like the practice ones I'd been having in the evening for the past few weeks.  The only difference was this was not the evening.  I decided to continue with class and just took child's pose when I got uncomfortable.  I didn't want to miss the beautiful day outside nor the outdoor practice.

Bakasana at 39 weeks

Contractions or Surges, as I usually call them, were mild all day.  They ranged in the 2-4 pain range, on a scale from 1-10.  They were coming every 10-20 minutes.  I sat down and did our taxes while Husband and Sonja went to a spring training game with his father and brother.  I told him I'd call if they got real active but they stayed mild for a while.

Around 5pm I noticed more mucus plug (again slightly bloody).  My parents came for dinner after I told them I thought tonight would be the night.  I called my sister, as she was planning on being the photographer of the whole event.  During dinner and that evening the surges increased to 4 on pain scale, and I knew they weren't going to stop.  I just didn't know how long they would last. 

I texted our Midwife at 9:41 and she called right after.  After talking with me she decided to come over and hang out until I got active. My parents ended up going home after 10pm ish, since our midwife was there and she was pretty confident it would be a little while.

While hanging out my sister and sister in law offered to help me make my postpartum yoni healing pads.

Around 11pm I decided to lay down with Sonja to get her to sleep.  During that time I had a few surges in the 5-6 pain scale.

Once she was asleep, {about 12 midnight} I headed out into the kitchen to talk to birth team.  There were more surgest in the 5-6 pain range but we talked through the fact I was scared for it to get real and once I just accept it's happening I could hurry the process up.  We agreed I could keep it pushed off for a while, until the birth hormornes really kicked in and forced it to happen.  I knew I had to just jump off that cliff but I was still scared of it. 

At 1am ish I decided to get in the shower and use my birth ball.  Once I was in there, there was no pain. I thought they stopped! I stayed in there for a while, wondering if I couldn't feel them if they were still there... they were.  Once the warm water ran out I got out of the shower and laid down on the bed over a stack of pillows.  My sweet friend Diane rubbed my back and so did Husband.  They were both such a great support team.
Husband kicked everyone else out of room shortly after my shower.  He mentioned he wanted this sacred experence to be between the two of us.  And while I knew that was sweet, I really just wanted to not be in pain,  I didn't care who was rubbing my back as long as it was being done in the right spot at the right time.  It's really hard to explain to someone what to do when you're entering labor land and a fellow woman usually knows what to do better than a sweet husband.  But it was his birth too so I let him rub my back until about 3:30am. 

The surges started to get so unbearable that I was screaming.  I woke up the whole household, many of whom had just fallen asleep.  My midwife's assistant, Danielle, came in to check on fetal heart tones and I rested as much as I could between surges.  It was probably a 7 on my pain scale and I noticed that my yell was primal with hints of grunting {indicative of pushing}.   Shell, my midwife, came in to check on me.  She laid beside me.  It started to become unbearable in any position.

She suggested Skylar check me. She said, I don't think he'll have to go very far, sometime like, "My thought is there should be a head in the vault."
He checked, and said he did feel a head.  But I asked her to check again because I felt like I was pushing without purpose. No progression. From pushing. She checked and said there was about a centimeter of cervix in the way. I was pulling it down with each push, instead of pushing it out of the way or waiting until it moved out of the way.  She helped to guide it out of the way, as I pushed and relaxed my abdomen I felt it slip over the baby's head.  There was a sense of relief/release. 

Somewhere during that time Sonja woke up, she sleeps in the same room as us and must have heard me screaming.  She was so sweet and happy to watch.  She was holding my hand and loving me.  But I had one really awful surge and I screamed a little too loud which scared her.  As soon as I saw the tears I apologized   The surge was over and I was trying to calmly tell her I was okay and that the yelling helped it not hurt.  I gave her a kiss and so did her daddy.  He asked her if she wanted to go play with her grandparents in the living room and she said yes.  Off she went. 

Once the head was in the canal, I was able to relax for a second. Shell told me to take deep breathe for baby {after I asked why and she explained fetal heart tones dropped way low and I needed to relax and allow baby to recover after such a powerful surge.  This is pretty normal and it's how fast baby recovers from such a situation that indicates what actions need to be taken}. My surges slowed down but were intense. Baby's heart rate recovered fine.

The surges gave me a few breaks during pushing.  I was able to ask for coconut water. I tried to consciously eat and drink because I was so tired I wanted to keep my energy up. I drank on my "breaks" and allowed myself to fully relax.

I was pushing so hard I peed.  Like all over the bed, actually on towels on the bed.  I tried to control it but I ended up pushing so hard I was pooping and peeing each time.  My support team happily cleaned it up before Skylar took over.  With Sonja's birth I was well cleared from a day of slow labor, this time was slightly quicker.  After a few tries of controlling it, I told them sorry, but I was just going to keep doing it.  They grabbed extra towels to put under me and all was fine.  Sometime in that mess I felt a gush, not pee.  I was sort of bummed for a second when I realized my water broke {no caul birth for me}.  But I was just ready to be done, I didn't really care and I was impressed with my body and baby for holding on that long!

Shell suggested if I needed the encouragement, I could feel inside to find the head and see how close I was. I DID need that and I felt the head push to the surface and slip back in once but on the next surge I was able to bring it to the surface and hold and push through. I could feel the bones of cheeks passing through. Once the head was out, I relaxed slightly through the next break and slowly pushed the shoulders and abdomen out. Husband was catching the baby. he had this beautiful baby half out and she looked at him and took her breathe but she was still in me.  He said, "I still don't know if it's a boy or girl..."

I can't believe Husband is "letting" me post this photo, but you can see her half in half out!

Shell told him something and I said "Don't touch her!" I didn't want him to tug, pull or anything. But she was explaining how to remove the cord around her neck.

With the next push I was able to get her all the way out.  "It's a girl," he said.  The whole delivery from head to toe was 4:50-4:53am.  When asked, between first breathe or toes out, I decided toes out.  She wasn't fully born until ALL the way out so her official birth time on her birth certificate says 4:53am.

Once she was out, I yelled, "Sonja" and everyone came rushing in. 

We allowed the cord to stop pulsing and I delivered the placenta.  After a while of establishing breastfeeding we clamped and cut the cord.
She weighed 7lbs 12oz and was 19inches long.  13 and 1/4 inches head {a whole inch smaller than Sonja's!}
And here I am after 19 hours of natural labor with my Blue Corn Hot Chocolate {and placenta-couldn't even taste it} made by my midwife.  And on that note, I felt much much better emotionally and physically than I did after Sonja's birth.  So as gross as it might be I highly recommend it!