Isabella's home water birth
This is the story of the planned home water birth ofIsabella Emily on Mon, Jul 23rd. Her original guess date (by ultrasound) wasAug 2nd.
I use the word planned very loosely. We had planned to haveher at home, delivered by midwives, had hired a doula and had rented a birthpool so that we could have a water birth. But I didnít take any childbirthclasses, I didnít plan how I wanted my labor to go, I didnít worry about my duedate approaching. I had a strong sense that things would happen as they were meantto.
We had planned to take Logan to Thomas at K Days, so daddywas going to work during the morning and coming home at noon so that we couldgo after Logan's nap. I woke up to streaks of blood in the mucus plug that I waslosing. I felt a bit excited about more signs of progress, but didn't give itmore than a passing thought. The braxton hicks, pressure in my groin area andmucus plug had been increasing for a couple of days.
My doula Jenn had asked for a heads up when I saw blood, soI sent her a quick FB message and then carried on with our day.
At around 8 am, I started noticing what felt like strongperiod cramps. They were pretty irregular, but made me wonder a bit. It didn'ttake long for them to get stronger and start to feel more like a tidal wavepassing over my belly. I can't remember when I thought to start timing them,but it had to have been shortly after and I noticed that they were around 5 minapart and about a min long.
I turned on Thomas for Logan to help get him excited for thelive show and called Jeff. I told him that I thought labor might be starting,but it was probably just nothing and I would call Jenn to see what she thought.I let Jenn know what was going on, and asked if we should stay home. She saidyes. I felt really bummed but thankful that to Logan, the promises of gettingto see Thomas could easily translate to watching a show.
My midwife Kerstin had said that if I felt like I was goingto have the baby that day, they would like a heads up. I called her and let herknow what was going on, and she said to call back when things progressed.
Logan went for his nap at 11 as usual. I felt like I neededto move around a lot. Sitting down was uncomfortable. Every time a contractioncame, I needed to stop and sometimes sway, and let my whole body go loose. At onepoint, I sat and it seemed as though there was a longer pause betweencontractions. As soon as I decided that we were going to Thomas after all, Istood up and another one came.
I decided that since I didn't want to look like Sasquatchfor my birth photos, I should probably do my eyebrows. Every time a contractioncame, I had to stop and walk, or stand and sway.
Some time after 11, I noticed that the contractions hadshortened to 3 min apart and about a min long. I was starting to get worriedthat I didn't have my birthing pool yet. I had spoken to the birth pool companythe week before and they had asked if I wanted a mini pool delivered beforethey went out of town for the weekend (I had ordered a regular size one, butthey didn't have one available) and I said no, I'm sure that won't benecessary. Now I felt like I needed the absent pool issue resolved so that Icould focus better. I had left a message at 8 and had been calling since.Around noon, I posted in the ASAC (Association for Safe Alternatives inChildbirth) group asking if anyone had a pool that I could borrow. Amazingladies pulled together and found me one within 40 minutes. It was around thistime that Jenn called me back and told me that she was going to come just to hangout. I asked her to pick up lunch for Logan because I didn't feel like eatingor feel up to preparing him anything. Aunty Leah, Logan's designated careperson, had the day off but had left to run an errand and would be back later.
Around noon the birth pool company finally called me back. Ilearned that on top of losing our $50 deposit, we would have to pay a $50cancellation fee, and that they still didn't have a regular pool clean. I feltso bad cancelling on the lady who was bringing the other pool, but we couldn'tafford to waste $100 and then pay another rental fee. I said a mini pool wouldbe fine and she said she would deliver it as soon as possible.
I don't remember how long it took for the pool to arrive. Apart of me still wondered if this was serious, but a part of me knew that itwas. I needed to keep moving, pacing around my house and looking at the birthingcandle that I had lit. It signified a connection to generations of women whohad given birth before me, a thread of shared strength and courage.
At each contraction, I reminded myself to go completelyloose and let my uterus do the work that it needed to do. Sometimes I wouldfeel myself start to tense at the beginning of a contraction and I would remindmyself, stay loose. I must have written my birth words somewhere during thattime so that I could read them as I walked past. I found it comforting to rubmy belly and talk to Belle.
I felt a sense of excitement and anticipation and a sense offollowing what my body needed me to do. In a deeper part of myself, I also felta hint of the fear that was so strong during my labor with Logan. What if becausethe contractions were so strong, something was wrong? It helped to keep readingthe words, 'Your body knows just what to do.'
The pool arrived and the woman asked if I wanted her to setit up. We had decided to set it up in Belle's room if I went into labor duringthe day and in the living room if during the night. Belle's room was next toLogan's so since he was still sleeping I said no. Jenn called to ask what Loganwould want to drink. I remembered the midwives suggesting that we have drinkswith sugar in them available, so I asked for iced tea. I think that tiny cup oficed tea really helped keep my energy later because since breakfast, I had onlyhad two perogies and I really didn't feel like eating. I asked Jenn if she hadever set a birth pool up. She said no, but she would wing it. After I hung up,the woman from the birth pool company gave me set up instructions, but I didn'thear any of it. Every time a contraction came, I had to walk away and allow itto run its course.
Jenn and Leah both arrived around 2. Logan woke up and AuntyLeah just naturally slipped into her care person role. Jenn started timing mycontractions. Logan sat on the couch to eat his lunch and finish watchingThomas. It was obvious by his glances at me that he knew that something washappening, but he wasn't alarmed. I reassured him that mommy was ok, she wasjust doing hard work. At one point, he wanted to look at the birth candle, so Iheld him during a contraction. I noticed that even with him in my arms, what Ifelt wasn't pain, but powerful pressure.
The day before, I had gone to the blessingway for a friendof mine who was due on the same day as me. We each received a bracelet with asmall bead on it that we would wear until the baby was born. My bracelet hadcome untied and I had been trying unsuccessfully all morning to rethread it. Iasked Jenn to do it for me, and I wore it right up until I had a shower afterBelle was born.
I felt nauseous and ran to the bathroom, but nothinghappened. Jenn said the nausea might be because I was effacing so fast. I thinkthat if I had eaten, I would have probably thrown everything up.
I had originally planned to just wait for Jeff until hefinished work at 5. At around 2:30, I started feeling like I was going to needhim soon, so I called him and asked that he leave at 3. At some point, Jenndecided that she needed to get the birthing pool set up. My feet were startingto hurt pretty badly from being on them almost constantly for nearly 7 hours,but whenever I tried to sit down, I felt too much discomfort. The pressure inmy groin area was pretty intense. Somewhere in there, Belle got the hiccups.
I wandered upstairs to check on Jenn's progress. The setupto fill the birth pool wouldn't work with our faucets, so she had had toimprovise by filling the bath tub up with nothing but hot water and then usingthe pump that normally removes water after the birth to pump the water into thetub, where it ended up room temperature. She had even cleaned the bath tubbeforehand!
Jenn started timing my contractions again. At some point,she told me that they were 2 min and 45 seconds apart. I wasn't sure if Ishould be disappointed or excited, then I decided that I didn't care. It wastaking all of my concentration to work through each contraction. Jenn offeredto grab the birthing ball and I wanted to try it, so she ran out to her car. Itried sitting on it, and it felt so good to be off my feet, but as soon asanother contraction started, I had to get up.
Jeff arrived around 3. It felt so good to lean against himwhile the contractions passed over me. It felt like he was giving me strengthand support, and it helped so much. I felt that it was very important to tellhim how much I needed him and that I needed him to do whatever I asked. Onlyfirm touches were registering, so I instructed him not to be afraid of hurtingme. It was at that point that I admitted to them that it felt like there weretwo ways that I could go - either I could keep working, or I could lose it, andthat a part of me really wanted to lose it. I meant give in to the fear thathad been hanging in the back of my mind and lose all sense of myself like Ifelt had happened when I was in labor with Logan. I think that I may have beenin transition.
Jenn reassured me for the millionth time that I was doinggreat, and she may have added that I was going to meet my baby very soon.During a few of the contractions, I leaned against Jeff while Jenn pushed herfingers into my lower back on each side. The counter pressure helped with themounting pressure. I remember hearing Aunty Leah ask Logan if he wanted to gofor a walk, and listening to them leave. It felt so reassuring to know that hewas safe and happy with his beloved aunty, and still close by.
It was as though I had gone somewhere within myself, whilestill being aware on some level of what was going on around me. I couldn'tfocus, I could hardly talk, and with each contraction, everything faded exceptfor the power of the wave. I could feel touches, hear sounds, but on somelevel, I was in a whole different place.
I felt like I needed the water, so I asked if I could getinto the birthing pool. Jenn said that it wasn't full or hot enough, I can'tremember which. I know she said that we had run out of hot water. She suggestedthe shower and it sounded heavenly, so we headed to my bedroom. Jenn said shewould call the midwives. I remember thinking that things must be serious if wehad progressed to alerting the people who would deliver Belle.
Jeff asked if I was going to put my bikini on (which I hadbought specifically for the purpose of the birth). I said no, I can't managethat and what does it matter - they'll eventually see everything, anyway. Thereasoning of a woman in labor!
Jeff changed into his swim trunks, and we went in. Despitethe spray hitting me on the upper back, it felt incredibly soothing. Shortlyafter getting in, I noticed that with two or three contractions, it felt asthough something was happening down there. I even felt at one point to check.With the third or fourth contraction, my water broke. I muttered water broke,Jeff told Jenn and Jenn told the midwives. I realized after that what I hadbeen feeling was the bag of waters bulging.
Jenn said the birth pool was ready and I felt like I neededto be in it, so we headed back to Belle's bedroom. The water was cool, but Ididn't care. I ended up on my knees leaning over the side of the pool. It wasonly then that I can honestly say that I felt pain. It hurt to change position,but my instincts were telling me that I needed to be in the pool. Also, I feltlike I wouldn't have had the strength to get out even if I had wanted to. Imanaged to say that I felt pushy, and Jenn told me that I couldn't push. Ithink I pretty much wailed, why can't I?! Because you have to let Belle movedown the birth canal slowly, and the midwives have to be the ones to catch her.I tried to listen and stop, but it felt like my body was doing what it neededto do and there was nothing that I could do about it.
I heard someone - Jenn, I think - say that the midwives werethere. I heard Leesha, Kerstin's backup midwife, say that she was going tocheck the baby, and then she would check how dilated I was. Kerstin and I had discussedcervical checks at my last appointment and she had explained that they usuallyonly did one when they arrived just to guage where labor had progressed to. Ihad originally wanted no cervical checks, but her reasoning made sense; I hadbeen debating with myself ever since whether I would want to know how many cm Iwas. I begged Leesha to check me between contractions, and explained that ifshe checked me during one, it would hurt really bad. I heard Kerstin say thatthe water was too cold and they should get me out. Jenn said she would get morehot water, and I told them that the kettle would be fastest. I felt thedoppler, heard the whoosh of Belle's heartbeat and Leesha saying that baby wasgood. Then I felt her check me and heard her say that Belle's head was rightthere.
They were telling me that I needed to recline because theyneeded access to the baby, but I felt like it was impossible. I said I can't, Ican't. I have no idea how I ended up in that position. I felt someone - I laterlearned that it was Jenn - holding my left hand and blindly reached out with myother hand. I somehow knew that Jeff would grab it and I held on to him as hardas I could. I felt an overwhelming need to push, and I was making a crazyprimal sound and it was keeping me from breathing, and then I became aware ofJenn and the midwives telling me that I needed to do little pushes - pant andpush. I felt tremendous pressure and some degree of pain and then one of the midwivessaying, that's the head. Then, again with the sensations and that's the shoulders.Then a gush and someone said the cord is around her neck. They uncoiled it andthen, Penny, it's your baby. I managed to open my eyes long enough to see atiny head full of dark hair and then I was bawling and holding my daughter. Myfirst thought was oh my God that's my baby and then my second was, she feelslike jello.
I remember looking at Jeff, and he was crying, too. Igrasped his hand and I'm sure that I said something about our little miracle.The midwives prepared to cut the cord and I coached Jeff to get past his fearof hurting Isabella so that he could be the one to do it. After it was done, heactually said, I made her bleed! I reassured him that he hadn't hurt her.
Kerstin kept calling the baby 'he.' I asked if the baby wasa boy, Jeff said she was supposed to be a girl and Kerstin said that theyhadn't checked yet but would I like them to? I said that I wanted to wait. Ijust wanted to snuggle Belle and keep her warm.
I think Isabella's birth may have been the most unpreparedhome birth the midwives had ever had. I had been telling myself for weeks thatit was ok that we hadnít quite gotten everything off the list, we had time. Kerstinhad told me at my last appointment that she could bring some blue pads becauseI couldn't find any in a store, but she must have forgot in the rush to get toour house. Jeff ended up having to run to Walmart later to get appropriatepads. The birth pool was so chilly that they were dipping towels in hot waterand putting them over me and Isabella. We ended up using the tablecloth as aprotective cover for the mattress - I saw it as a great excuse to finallyreplace something that I had hated for a long time. There were hardly any cleantowels or blankets. Our bed was quickly prepared while we were still in thepool. Leesha coached me to deliver the placenta, then they passed Isabella toJeff and helped me get out of the pool.
I started shivering violently on my way to the bedroom.Details are so foggy from this point. I know that I got into bed and that Isabellacame back for more snuggle time while they piled warm blankets on us. There areglimpses in my mind. Isabella crying and then rooting. Leaning against Jeff'schest and staring at the beautiful baby in my arms. Jenn telling me that shewas proud of me. Kerstin suggested that we try to nurse. Feeling like I was allthumbs trying to coach Isabella onto the breast. Leesha encouraging me to drinkwater and chocolate milk. Noticing that it was storming like crazy outside andhearing the crack of thunder. Someone said that we were under a tornado watch.Looking at the placenta and marveling over this amazing structure that hadsupported my baby for 9 months. Leesha asked if I would like my son to come in,and I said yes. Logan coming in with Aunty Leah, all eyes. He seemed fascinatedby his sister, but uncertain. He drank the rest of my chocolate milk.
Leesha said that I should try to pee, and asked if I wouldlike a shower. It felt so good to stand under the spray and scrub myself. Icouldn't stop talking. A bit later Jenn brought me a tuna sandwich, but thesmell made me feel nauseous. She took it away and came back with crackers withpeanut butter and fruit. It was hard to force myself to eat, but those were thebest tasting crackers I had ever had.
I guess the midwives were a bit concerned about my bloodloss, so Leesha gave me a shot of oxytocin. That hurt!
They had weighed and measured Isabella while I wasshowering. At 1 1/2 weeks 'early', she beat her brother by 4 oz and 1 in - shewas 8 lbs 9 oz and 20 1/2" and he had been 8 lbs 4 oz and 19 1/2".Total labor with Belle was 8 1/2 hrs and 10 with Logan. Belle was born at 4:27,an hour and a half after daddy got home and 10 min after the midwives arrived.
Two hours after Belle was born, I was downstairs on my couchsurrounded by the people I loved, saying goodbye to the midwives and Jenn. Weate dinner and went to bed, still riding on an incredible high.
I will always remember Belle's birth day with so much love,so much amazement at what my body was able to do, what I was able to do,appreciation of the ones that I love, and gratefulness for the support of somany beautiful women.
Re: Isabella's home water birth
Gorgeous story! Congratulations mama! :cheer:
Re: Isabella's home water birth
Incredible birth story! Congratulations mama, you did fantastic!
Re: Isabella's home water birth
Awesome story, congratulations!
Re: Isabella's home water birth
This is such a beautiful way to start a new little person. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story!
Re: Isabella's home water birth
You are amazing P! Thank you for sharing.
Re: Isabella's home water birth
Congratulations! What a beautiful birthing story!
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