Today is my youngest daughter's first birthday. To celebrate, I decided to post her birth story, so this post is NOT for the faint of heart, or those grossed out by "birth stuff." Feel free to skip over the story and watch the Mumford & Sons video and the slideshow that my good friend Terah put together with the photographs she took :)
Nora Catherine’s Birth Story
Sunday, October 28, 2012, 9:30 pm, 38w3d
I went to bed earlier than normal because I was super tired. I felt kind of bad, but Chris assured me that I was pregnant and needed my rest. After an hour of sleeplessness, I got up to pee, and got back into bed. I think I finally fell asleep, but woke up again an hour later to pee, then an hour after that. I finally got a good stretch of sleep from 12:30 am until 3:45 am, then got up to pee yet again, but this time something was different.
Monday, October 29, 2012, 3:45 am, 38w4d
I started to feel cramps. I got up to pee and got back in bed, and felt the cramps again. 4:00 am rolled around and I decided I was hungry enough to get up and eat something, so I made some toast and then got back in bed. Chris then said it was his turn to get up and head to the bathroom, and I told him I thought I was in labor. His response: “Okay.”
I decided to start timing how far apart these cramps were occurring, and it was anywhere from six to eight minutes. After an hour of this, I decided that if it continued like this, I would call Ann, our midwife, at 6:00 am and let her know what was going on. About 5:15 am, I called my mom and told her today was probably the day. I couldn’t wait until 6:00 am to call Ann, so I called at 5:50. She sounded very tired (I found out later that she didn’t get home until after 3:00 am). I told her that I had been having contractions for over two hours and that I started to lose my mucous plug, and she told me that labor can sometimes pick up during the night but then die down later in the day, and to call back if things pick up. I sent our doula Kelley a text message immediately after and told her that I thought today was the day, that I called Ann, and that I would call Ann if things picked up. Then I sent the photographer Terah a text message to let her know that I was in labor.
Kelley called me about 7:30 am and by this time, Chris was in the kitchen making me scrambled eggs. Chris’ mom was the next person I called. She was very excited and said she would be praying for us all day. I then received a text from Kelley asking how things were, and I told her contractions were a consistent six to seven minutes apart. She said she would get ready and head on over to our house. I called the chiropractor next, which was 9:00 am, to cancel my 10:45 appointment that I had scheduled. The receptionist asked if I needed to reschedule and I told her no, I was in labor! Kelley arrived and helped me through contractions while in the fetal position on the bed. My mom sent me a text message next asking for her hourly update, and asked if she could come over. I said yes and then I received a call from Ann at 10:15 am asking how I was doing. She asked if I could walk and talk through the contractions and I told her not really, that I was mostly curled up on the bed in the fetal position. She said she had a newborn appointment at 11:00 at her house and that she would head over to our house and arrive about 12:00 pm.
We decided to get the bed ready with the spare sheet after this. We discovered that the sheet I bought at the thrift store was a double and not a queen, so I phoned my mom asking if she had an extra sheet she could bring over. She also said she would bring stuff for lunch and dinner. While waiting for people to arrive, Kelley, Chris, and I (and Hannah) hung out in the living room where I would lean on the exercise ball during contractions to help ease the pain. At one point I had to pee, so I went to our bathroom, where I proceeded to puke while on the toilet, while having a contraction. Not the most awesome thing ever.
My mom arrived at our house after a little bit and then Kelley and Chris got the bed all set up. Ann, Neva, the student midwife, and Alyssa, the assistant, arrived about 12:20 pm with all of the supplies. We headed to the bedroom to check my progress.
I got on the bed and Ann checked my progress, while Kelley was standing by me for comfort. Ann then asked if Neva could check me as well. The progress? A seven. Yes, seven centimeters dilated! Say what? Neva timed a few of my contractions while Alyssa set up and filled the pool in the living room. I sent Terah a text telling her I was at a seven and she was shocked and said she would head my way soon.
I got ready and headed for the comfort of the warm water. During each contraction, I transferred to hands and knees from a sitting position, while Kelley poured water on my back. Contractions felt like they were getting further apart, but were staying pretty consistent. I guess I didn’t really care about what time it was and how far apart the contractions were. It wasn’t my job to know anymore, like it was during the night! Neva would occasionally check on the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler, and every time I would hear the pitter patter of Hannah running toward me! She held the receiver and pushed the power button when asked to and would make the sound of the baby’s heartbeat.
At some point, my dad arrived. He took Hannah out for a walk down our street. As usual, she picked up various rocks and sticks and leaves. There was also a trike at the end of the cul-de-sac that she hopped on. They came back and she finally wound down and fell asleep on her big girl bed! I am thankful that she was able to sleep through my labor pains.
The next to arrive was Terah with her one-month-old daughter Piper, who was born on the previous full moon! The decision to hire a photographer was one of the best I made. To capture the birth and be able to reflect on it in the future, to remember details, I would not want to have missed. Mary, Kelley’s apprentice arrived next. At that point, I was about eight centimeters dilated. When she was informed of this, she was shocked at my calmness. In the words of Ann: “This is what eight centimeters looks like at a home birth!”
I would continue to get in the hands and knees position during contractions and rock back and forth while Kelley poured the warm water on my back. Once they started getting closer together and I was nearing the urge to push, Chris came over to the pool and held my hands while I leaned on the side of the pool. Neva lubed me up with olive oil so the baby would slide on out and reduce the risk of tearing. I felt like a turkey getting ready to cook, with the warm water and oil!
The urge to push began about five minutes before 3:00 pm. Ann assisted with stretching while I pushed. The contractions were happening one right after the other and I kept pushing while holding Chris’ hands and leaning over the side of the pool while on my knees. Starting to push was tricky, as if I had forgotten how to do it. And I was afraid of tearing, so I wasn’t giving it my all in the beginning. So every time I felt a burning sensation, I would blow out a few short breaths and then get back to pushing. I cried ouch a few times but never thought I couldn’t do it. My support team was so encouraging and positive that I knew I could get the baby out. The pushing was a lot shorter than with Hannah’s birth; a total of nineteen minutes. At 3:14 pm, my baby’s head was born. One more big push, and out came Nora Catherine, in the caul. I flipped over and sat down and received my new daughter in my arms. Overwhelmed with emotion, so incredibly happy to be done pushing, I cried and started kissing her, before I knew she was a her. Someone said something about a “she” or “her” but it was instinctive, as we have another beautiful daughter. I checked between the legs and confirmed that it was a girl, and called her Nora for the first time. After the umbilical cord had finished pulsing, it was clamped and Chris cut it. I then pushed out the placenta.
Nora was then handed to Chris in a hot towel and I prepared to get out of the pool and into bed. Once I got there, I was greeted by hot towels and a fresh bed. Nora successfully latched after a bit of fumbling around and she proceeded to poop on me and all over the towels that we were wrapped in. After a little while of nursing and vitals being taken, she was weighed and measured and was examined by Ann. Six pounds, fifteen and a half ounces, and nineteen and a half inches long. Then Hannah woke up and got to meet her baby sister for the first time! She was very interested and held her while in Daddy’s lap. Kisses and hugs followed shortly. Once it was determined that everything was okay and Nora and I were both stable, the birth crew departed. My parents hung out and we had chicken for dinner. Then Kevin, my brother, arrived with his new fiancée Monica. We visited for a bit as they doted on their new niece, then they departed to get ready for the next day’s schedule. Then it was just our little family of four.
*It has been calculated that Caulbearer births may be as few as one in eighty thousand births.
*Some say that a child born this way may have special intuitive powers, be destined to be a midwife, have extraordinary luck or never die by drowning.