I’ll never forget those precious moments, with Ivan along my side – his head resting on Camille’s legs as she lay across my lap – two pairs of beautiful big blue eyes staring up at me as I nourished my babies.
I am weaning Camille. ¬†I am grieving the end of our breastfeeding relationship in a way I didn’t expect to. ¬†She is my only girl, she is my sweet, gentle, loving, thoughtful little girl.
When I birth my babies I feel a sense of grief and a little anxiety about the fact that they are now on the outside. ¬†They are no longer inside me, connected to me, being fed & protected by me. ¬†They must breathe their own air, digest my milk, and be exposed to a little bit of the world.
Now, I am feeling that same sense of grief and anxiety – she is no longer going to receive my antibodies or the unique nutrition my milk provided her. ¬†She is no longer a baby. ¬†She is a toddler, she is moving into the next stage of her childhood and will learn a little more about the world, and exert her will a little more, and become a little more¬†adventurous¬†and independent.
I know she is ready. ¬†I know this because she doesn’t cry for it. ¬†She asks¬†occasionally¬†when she has just woken up or is cold, but other things offered provide her what she needs. ¬†Those are the times she most wanted to nurse. ¬†When she woke up feeling a little groggy or if we’d been out for a long walk in the rain, or she’d gotten cold in the swimming pool, then my baby girl would like the warmth and security of nursing – it wasn’t just hunger that I was abating in these¬†moments. ¬† But it seems she can fill her hunger with food now, she can be warmed in a blanket by the fire quite happily, and when she needs security she hides behind my legs or is reassured up in my arms.
I feel so blessed I’ve been able to tandem nurse Camille and Ivan. ¬†It’s been a truly rewarding experience.
Now it is time for Camille and I to move into another stage of our relationship – I’m excited for what’s to come with this sweet angel, I am so blessed to have as my daughter!
First time moms often wonder how they will¬†¬†know¬†they are in labour. ¬†What will it feel like? Can it be compared to menstrual cramps? ¬†how can they be sure it’s time? ¬†
The great news is, if you’ve suffered from severe menstrual cramps, contractions are easier to cope with from at least one perspective – you get breaks! ¬†With menstrual cramps, they are continuous unless relieved by medication, heat, aromatherapy, herbal teas etc., but with contractions in labour they are rhythmic and you get to rest in between. ¬†That’s the first thing to remember, and to savour! ¬†Tip # 1 for moving through your birthing time is to RELAX as much as possible. ¬†If you’re not sure if “it’s happening” or not, it’s best just to carry on with a relaxing day and try your best to ignore the sensations. ¬†If you are in the more intense stages and are certain your baby is making its way – take those breaks and focus on softening your entire body and relaxing as much as possible in between waves / contractions / tightenings. ¬†Many women are able to doze off even if it’s just for a minute or two even in the most intense parts of their birthing time.
As far as the sensations being compared to menstrual cramps – most people describe ¬†this sensation for the early labour – or the weeks leading up to labour. ¬†This is most likely associated with the cervical ripening that occurs before the body moves into the birthing time. ¬†When the “real” contractions begin, it is a bit different in that the sensations are usually a tightening all around the baby – so into your back (a little or a lot depending on the woman and the position of the baby), and up as high as your uterus has stretched. ¬†The cervical ripening is associated more with the menstrual cramps sensation because it is lower down in the pelvis.
Often during the contractions there is a tightening all over the belly, and a discomfort low in the pelvis around the pubic bone as your body is pushing your baby in a downward motion with each contraction. ¬†Applying some heat to this area provides great relief. Trying to keep your body relaxed THROUGH each contraction is also very useful. ¬†Remember your uterus is a muscle working hard to move your baby down & out. ¬†Allow your body to expend energy in that muscle while relaxing the rest of your muscles. ¬†As I mentioned before, if you are unsure if its time, relax and carry on as much as possible. ¬†The contractions that should have you calling your midwife or heading to the hospital will get your attention no matter what you are distracting yourself with. ¬†They will feel strong, you will not feel like speaking through them, only breathing and focusing on your body. ¬†Most women prefer a gentle rub in time with their breathing pattern, not to be spoken to unless it’s gentle words of reassurance and encouragement. ¬†Anything out of time or sync with their body usually proves irritating as it is a distraction from the work they are doing.
You can practice for labour by standing with your feet a little more than should width apart, supporting your body with strong legs, but specifically softening your bum & vulva. ¬†Rock your hips back and forth, around in circles and move them in any other ways that feel good. ¬†Belly dancing is a great thing to do to keep your pelvis loose! ¬†Soften your whole body aside from your strong legs supporting you, lean forward with your arms resting on the back of a couch or a counter or some other support if it feels good. ¬†If your partner is around get into a slow dance position and rock your hips with a focus on relaxing your shoulders, your face, your bum and your vulva – you are letting your baby down. ¬†Breathe deeply softening your body with each exhale. ¬†Imagine the¬†tightening of your belly¬†hugging your baby and moving it down – closer to being in your arms. ¬†It is good practice for your partner to support you, move in time with what feels good to you, breathe in time with you if it seems right. ¬†Having someone breathe slowly and deeply with you can keep you on track with it as things intensify. ¬†If we breathe quickly our body tenses, keep it slow and if you feel like toning, keep it low.
Every woman will want to move into different positions at different times to cope – follow what feels right for your body. ¬†Do what feels right for moving your baby down. ¬†Trust your body & your baby.
I’m reposting this from last year! I pulled out the chest rub I made last year, and used it on all the kids & myself with this nasty cold we’ve had.
As promised – the recipe for a natural remedy for chest congestion. ¬†My 5 yr old was coughing all night long, so first thing in the morning I set to making this chest rub to help clear things up and help him sleep:
I have to keep my recipes somewhere – so I thought I’d share!
You could easily add raisins for cinnamon raisin bread, but my husband hates them so I leave them out
Add the ingredients in the order listed. ¬†If adding raisins wait until the machine has blended these ingredients first, and then add them in the kneading phase
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 tsp bread machine yeast
2 1/2 tbsp sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp oil
1 1/3 cup white flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
I set my bread machine for “normal” / white bread
I came up with this recipe when I was craving cinnamon buns, but didn’t want that much sugar (and didn’t have the energy to make them..) and my family LOVES it!
It’s been one week since we welcomed our 4th, and last child. ¬†Ivan was born at home. ¬†It was a perfect birth for me, and I will write a more detailed birth story when the time feels right.
Leading up to Ivan’s birth I was nervous about how our 18 month old daughter would respond to another baby in the house – someone that she had to share mama’s milk with, a little being that required so much of her parents. ¬†So far things have been great! ¬†We talked A LOT about her sharing mama’s milk, and telling her the baby would come out of mama’s tummy soon. ¬†She participated at all the midwife visits – listening with the feta-scope to the baby, palpating my belly and helping measure the fundal height. ¬†She seemed to really understand that we were checking on baby – and equally now, she seems to understand that the baby came out! ¬†I am just waiting for her to grab her stethescope from her doctor’s kit and lift up my shirt to listen to baby as she did throughout the pregnancy, but so far she seems to be clear that there is no baby in mama’s tummy¬†any more¬† ¬†It really astounds me how much children can understand at such a young age!
The first weeks after a baby’s arrival are emotional to say the least. ¬†Everyone experiences a different range of emotions, concerns, and joys. ¬†For me my heart swells bigger than I can ever imagine. ¬†My first I loved so deeply, I had no idea I was capable of such love, as his siblings were born I was amazed at the way my heart’s capacity for love just continued to expand. ¬†I feel so much love for my new baby, as well as for my older babies, and memories of their births and first weeks of life come flooding back – I find just remembering their birth and newborn stage gives me extra compassion for whatever difficulties they are experiencing at their current stage. ¬†Suddenly I have the empathy for them as a baby as well as the difficult 5 yr old I’m struggling to understand at times. ¬†I love this reminder, I love how it impacts my parenting.
As I lie with Ivan curled up on my chest I am overcome with love, and with some sadness too. ¬†This is the last baby I will birth, all of my children are out. ¬†I always have an acute awareness of how protected my babies were in my belly versus how vulnerable they are once out and in the world. ¬†I also feel a pang of grief that I will not experience pregnancy, birth, and the newborn stage again. ¬†I feel I am finished – pregnancies become increasingly uncomfortable, and difficult the more you have, and I’ve had amazing birth experiences – I couldn’t ask for more. ¬†But that feeling of holding your newborn – nothing can compare to it, and I don’t know if anyone could ever feel “done” with that. ¬†It prompted me to dig a little deeper into WHY it feels SOO amazing. ¬†It’s not that we love our children any less as they get older – in fact if anything we love them in several more ways as we learn about them and get to know them. ¬†I think for me just the fact that I can hold them curled up on my chest for hours is a big part of it! ¬†If I could hold my 5 yr old like that I would. ¬†It was tough cuddling my older babies while I was pregnant, but now without the belly in the way I can snuggle them all up on my lap!
I’m off to hold each one of them tight.
Having birthed 2 posterior babes, and supported many women through labours with posterior babies – I have learned a few things worth sharing with mamas to be, and doulas.
First off are signs to look for. ¬†A well known “symptom” of a a posterior labour is back labour. ¬†Back labour isn’t¬†necessarily¬†an indication that the baby is posterior, some women experience back labour because of previous back problems or muscle strain, but it should be taken into consideration that it may be an indication of a posterior baby. ¬†Another clue to baby’s position is the contraction pattern. A typcial contraction pattern for posterior babies is coupling. ¬†First an intense wave / contraction, then followed by a less intense one, then a longer gap followed by a strong one, quickly followed again by a less intense one, and again. ¬†An observaion of this wave / contraction pattern should alert the doula to the possibility that the baby may be posterior. ¬†A long first stage or stalling in active labour is another indicator.
Secondly – consider how the posterior position impacts progression and birthing. ¬†When a baby is posterior their head does not apply the same even pressure the cervix that an aterior baby does, and this can cause a delay in dilation. ¬†Posterior babies are generally associated with longer harder labours, but there are solutions!
For some more information on solutions¬†I refer to you to the Spinning Babies website. ¬†I could re-iterate everything she has here, but her website is dedicated to dealing with babies in “difficult” positions – so go there to learn more about optimal fetal position in late pregnancy and early labour, and physical ways to help turn your baby / your client’s baby anterior. ¬†Using inversions (shown on the SB website), pulsatilla homeopathics, hands and knees positions, rebozo techniques, lunges, positive visual cues, and patience babies will often turn to a more optimal position.
IF the baby does not turn, it may do so later in the labour, or it may simply be delivered posterior!
As for medical interventions: often in a posterior labour, if a mom’s dilation stalls for a significant amount of time, an epidural may be recommended. ¬†An epidural can facilitate the baby turning by allowing the pelvic muscles to relax. ¬†I have also seen a mom have her baby manually turned to the anterior position after the relief of an epidural and with the skilled hands of an OB. ¬†Before all that though – check out spinning babies, and keep these 3 tools in your doula bag / birth kit: a TENS machine to relieve back labour, homeopathic remedies pulsatilla to encourage baby to turn, and caulophyllum to stimulate a more regular contraction patter, and a rebozo that can be used to “sift” the belly encouraging baby to turn.
For me personally: I had an epidural with my first baby when I stopped progressing at 6 cm – it was disappointing as I’d planned an unmedicated home birth. ¬†My son didn’t turn in the end, but I did fully dilate after another 10 hrs and I delivered him¬†vaginally -¬†posterior and asynclitic . ¬†My second baby was posterior for weeks leading up to the birth, and I did everything I could to try and turn her – she simply refused – so I surrendered myself to delivering another posterior baby. ¬†What a difference between the 2 births! ¬†As my body had done it all before (and other factors I’m sure), it took only 3 hours as opposed to 46 despite her position. ¬†Now pregnant with #3 I am almost certain that my body simply favours a posterior position and anticipate to deliver that way again. ¬†So although we do talk about “optimal” positioning for a good reason – if you do all you can and baby remains in their chosen position – have faith in the process!
Our family is growing at an enormous rate! ¬†We’ve gone from 1 to 6 in the same number of years – that makes it sound really dramatic doesn’t it? hahaha – well I was just a single gal and then I had my son. ¬†2 years later we met my husband and his son, since then we’ve welcomed a baby girl and now I am pregnant with our 4th and last child! ¬†As you can imagine food costs for 2 young boys, a pregnant & nursing woman and my husband who has the matabolism of a….hummingbird (yes I just googled what animal has the fastest metabolism) are something we have to be concious of. ¬†If we decide to make some sandwiches for a picnic – that’s a whole loaf of bread gone!
So -I’m a WAHM now (work at home mom). ¬†I’ve reduced my workload significantly and, being home more, I have increased my interest / passion about running our house as efficiently as possible. ¬†I thrive on finding the most efficient ways to do things – possibly because I am, as my dear friend Amanda has told me, an over-functioner – if multitasking were an olympic sport…. Anyway, this way of being has it’s pros and cons, but an analysis of the why and the how of that is for another day….
Here I am at home, I must maximize fun & home made and minimize expense & waste! ¬†As a result you will be seeing a lot more posts about our home-made adventures! I’m off topic…so the bread! ¬† A whole loaf of bread for one picnic, and I’m not sure I feel great about the ingredients – the solution? ¬†Make it myself! ¬†With a breadmaker. ¬† I’m not THAT good
If you haven’t heard of Freecycle – get on it! ¬†This is a fantastic website that connects people who have stuff to give and people who need. ¬†This is not a save yourself a trip to the dump with your old junk kind of thing – this is – “I have this great useful thing that I just don’t have the time and energy to post of craigslist and try to sell” or “I thought I’d use this but just don’t so someone else should make use of it rather than it gathering dust” or “I am a super generous & kind hearted human being”. Seriously- the things people give away is shocking. ¬†I try to match what I take with giving – but the truth is so far I’ve taken more than I’ve given simply because we seem to use everything or almost everything we own right now! ¬†I will certainly pass on the things I’ve taken back to freecyclers when I’m finished though – it is a great way to build our communities I believe.
I’ve never used a bread maker before & wasn’t willing to invest money in something I wasn’t sure I’d actually use – better to try and find one for free and see how it goes! ¬†I posted on Freecycle¬†asking if anyone had one they weren’t using and the very next morning I got a reply! ¬†Deborah asked me to come by as soon as possible to pick it up as she’d got a new one and didn’t need her old one anymore.
I made a trip out to her place the next afternoon and along the way I discovered a new beach & ¬†playground to take the kids to! Bonus!
Here’s what a friendly paddler (thank you neighbour) brought up to the beach for the kids to see:
Here’s what I came home with:
I’d never used one before so played around with the buttons a bit to figure it out. Then I googled recipes for breadmakers and found this: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Best-Bread-Machine-Bread/Detail.aspx It was a recipe for white bread so I switched that ingredient to whole wheat, and added a little more salt as the reviews suggested, but the rest I kept ¬†the same.
In the morning this is what we pulled out of the machine:
My husband loves it, the kids love it – I’m overjoyed!
I was ecstatic “I found a bread machine for free, and now we have delicious fresh bread, and it’s SOO much cheaper too!” It’s a little surprising to me that I get so “into” the whole home making aspect of my life – I never envisioned myself here – but I’m enjoying it! ¬†Anyway, hubby’s response was grand approval for the taste, texture, and “heartiness” of it – this man is picky, he doesn’t like many baked goods so his genuine enjoyment of the bread made me very happy. ¬†He then wanted to know “how much cheaper is it?”
Hmmmm…now I want to figure this out:
1 loaf of basic store bought whole wheat bread = $2.5
1 loaf of ¬†bread machine bread = $1.77
So if I shop regular priced ingredients in small quantities instead of waiting for sales or buying in larger quantities the savings : $0.73 per loaf. ¬†We go through 3 loaves a week roughly = $2.19. ¬†Not a huge number, but it all adds up! ¬†Now that I know how easy it is, I will start trying new recipes to make even healthier breads with flax seeds etc. and start buying my flours and other ingredients in larger quantities.
Thank you fellow freecycler Deborah!
I’ve had a few people ask me:
“so since you already know so much, will you still have a doula at your birth?”
The truth is I do have extensive knowledge about birth, and also about how beneficial support throughout labour is My husband is a great support in many ways, but when it comes down to it no one can do it all. ¬†I tend to self talk in my labour and go inside my head a bit, but I STILL need someone calm & experienced in supporting labouring moms around.
I want my doula there to:
This will be my 3rd birth, and I feel confident, relaxed, excited even about giving birth again – but I would never pass up having an extra set of hands and another¬†knowledgeable¬†calm person in the room!
My hubby and I just got back from Maui! ¬†It was absolutely blissful. ¬†It was a much needed break from the kids, though we missed them terribly. ¬†The thing I am reminded of each time I go on vacation is how UNimportant my cell phone is. ¬†I don’t know why, but when I’m home & working for months on end I feel glued to it – I am lost without it – I have to check for work email, oh and setting up playdates has to be co-ordinated through text of facebook messages, or what if I need to look something up while I’m out? ¬†I don’t know how I get to this point, but I do. ¬†And then I go away for a week leaving it all behind and feel great and my priorities get re-aligned! ¬†So when I come BACK from these breaks (whether it’s camping, or a committed no cell phone time in our house etc.) I suddenly notice all the parents on their phones at the park etc. ¬†Believe me – I have been that parent many many times, but you don’t see it clearly until you are out of it. ¬†Suddenly I see children falling down & crying, and parents looking up briefly from their screen saying “what are you doing on the ground?” and then looking back to the screen – child still crying. ¬†Then there’s the mum that has loaded her kids into the hot hot van, they are crying and whining and she is standing at the back of the van – half way through loading it COMPLETELY engaged in whatever she is reading on her cell phone. ¬†She seems completely oblivious to the children crying and whining. ¬†Again – I’m not in a place to judge because I KNOW I’ve been that mum. ¬†I guess I’m just shocked that sooo many of us have been sucked into this. ¬†I think I’m a good mom – but I’ve been guilty of this absent parenting without realizing it at the time. ¬† I see mom’s that clearly follow attachment parenting – wearing their baby, breastfeeding – moms that are very involved with their children – and then within minutes they are so completely absorbed in their phone (whatever it is on there – text, email, facebook – I don’t know) – that they are no longer¬†consciously¬†parenting. ¬†How did we get here? ¬†Many times I’ve been on my phone at the¬†playground¬†with my kids – I excuse it to myself that I HAVE check my work email etc. ¬†- but I’m really going to make a firm effort NOT to. ¬†I was away for a week and nothing fell apart – I can take the few hours at the park to put the phone away! ¬†I think for me a key might be wearing a watch. ¬†I go to check on the time – and get distracted by a message I’ve received. ¬†Another reason for my sudden¬†determination¬†not to succumb to this addiction is seeing families in Maui at dinner -¬†parents¬†and kids ALL on phones, nobody interacting. ¬†I said to Vince “we need to have a no cell phone rule at meal times when our kids get phones!” ¬†I’m going to start now! ¬†I’m going to start setting my example of IN PERSON interaction, and BEING PRESENT now – before they get their phones!
So if I don’t get back to you for a day – please understand
On Thursday, at 41 wks + 5 days I saw my midwife. ¬†I asked her to do a stretch and sweep and had a little cry about the fact that I was still pregnant and was having no signs of labour. ¬†She couldn’t really do a proper stretch and sweep – my cervix was still hard and quite closed. ¬†This is not a comfortable procedure – but I tolerated as much as I could – I wanted her to try. ¬†It was an intervention I chose to try and help stimulate my body to go into labour.
I was predictably uncomfortable for the rest of the evening – stretch and sweeps stimulate cramping and contractions. ¬†I managed the waves as we strolled down the street getting some fresh fish for dinner. ¬†I also picked up the ingredients for the labour cocktail and told my midwife I might take it in the early morning after a good night’s sleep. ¬†I was ready to meet my baby, and was starting to feel that I would rather encourage my baby out now and have her at home, than wait and increase the potential of needing to deliver in hospital.
The night brought some more consistent contractions, I slept as much as I could, only being woken by a few and of course the frequent need to pee! ¬†In the morning I called my midwife to tell her that things were slowly progressing on their own. ¬† I was in early labour and would delay taking the cocktail to see what happened.
At 8am my waters broke. ¬†With both of my labours, my water started trickling – I didn’t have a big gush to deal with, just a trickle that is constant and can be managed with a pad. ¬†I was excited and anxious to kick into active labour. ¬†I called the woman taking over the lease on my car and told her we’d better hurry to the dealership to finalize our paperwork as I was going into labour. ¬†I also noticed the tiniest bit of meconium in my amniotic fluid – it was soo faint, but I suddenly worried that it might get worse. I decided I wanted my baby out sooner than later so that I could stay home! ¬†I called my midwife and gave her the heads up that I was taking the cocktail at 10am, just before heading out to finalize the details with my car.
My husband followed behind me in his car, anxious about me driving with my water broken and a regular contraction pattern. ¬†I assured him that this was just early labour (and crossed my fingers that the stomach upsetting affect of the cocktail would hold off until I returned home). ¬†The employees at Honda were just as anxious as my husband when I told them our rush, they were insistent I leave and go to the hospital – I’m sure no one has received such speedy service as we did that day! ¬†The car ride home was tough – the contracions were picking up, but I knew it was still early. ¬†I feel EVERYTHING! ¬†Every woman is different, some don’t even notice their early labour and dilate to 3 cm without much discomfort, for others (like me) we feel the contractions that soften the cervix before it even starts dilating! I made hubby stop and get me some Marble Slab, which I happily ate between contractions on our 20 min drive home.
When we got home I decided it was time to do some stairs. ¬†The activity of walking up stairs or up a steep hill in lunges can really help get baby down and increase your contractions. ¬†I had some loose stools from the castor oil, and things WERE increasing ,but not at the rate I was hoping. ¬†We went for a short walk through the woods behind our house.
This was by far my favourite part of my labour. ¬†I will never forget how peaceful it was walking through the trees. ¬†We would stop when a strong wave came, and I would hold onto Vince. ¬†We would slow dance while I breathed my way through. ¬†I told him that what I had was a typical contraction pattern for a posterior baby – I knew she hadn’t turned, and was pretty sure she wasn’t going to. ¬†He told me he was thankful that I knew so much, I knew what was happening and what I wanted to do – he just had to be there. ¬†We walked and swayed in the sunshine, and talked about how excited we were to meet our baby, and how soon we would be a family of 5 instead of 4. ¬†We enjoyed the firm bump of my belly, as we knew these would be the last hours.
We went back home around 2pm so that we could be there for our new bed to be delivered! ¬†I hid in the spare room breathing through my contractions while the movers brought in our new bed and took out the old. ¬†I was not yet in active labour, but these early labour contractions were enough that I didn’t feel like interacting with strangers. ¬†We had our¬†birth pool¬†set-up¬†in the dining room and Vince proudly explained that we were having a home birth today!
Finally they were gone and it was time for my second dose of the cocktail and a visit from our midwife. ¬†I knew things were not progressing as quickly as I’d hoped and so decided the second dose would be a good choice. ¬†My midwife confirmed what I knew when she checked me and found I was still only 2 cm. ¬†Vince went to pick the kids up from daycare and I had my midwife do another stretch and sweep and then we chatted while I drank the cocktail.
We got the kids in and settled. ¬†I decided to go and take a nap before the second dose kicked in, and before doing some more active work to get labour going. ¬†We planned nipple stimulation in the sunshine next to try and bump up the intensity – but it never got to that. ¬†In fact I didn’t even get my nap. ¬†I went and lay down on our new amazing king sized bed (to this day I am thankful almost every time I climb into that comfortable bed), and within about 15 min I went into active labour.
Very suddenly it hit.¬† It was 6pm when I went into active labour. ¬†I went to the bathroom and vomited, and then went to bed. ¬†I lay on my side hoping I would get some rest in between, gripped the headboard through each wave and rocked myself and toned through it. ¬†Thankfully Vince came upstairs to check on me, and was quite surprised to see me rocking and moaning on the bed. ¬†I told him I needed him, and to call someone for the kids. ¬†We hadn’t come up with a back up plan – I don’t know why, we just never thought past 41 wks and 5 days, so we were now stranded with no child care. ¬†He called his sister, and his mother, and my dad – everyone was a few hours away and things were moving along quickly now! ¬†The boys were bickering so Vince went back downstairs to them and continued frantically calling family and friends. ¬†I decided it was time to get in the shower. ¬†I’d spent many times late in my pregnancy standing in the shower visualizing labour and being in there belly dancing through contractions, bending my knees and moving my hips. ¬†This is just what I did. ¬†It took all I had just to get from the bed to the shower – every time I moved another strong wave washed over me. ¬†I got in under the hot water and rocked and moved and bent my knees in a low squat. ¬†I just kept repeating in my mind “soft and stretchy, opening for my baby. ¬†” ¬†I visualized my body opening and my baby moving lower and lower. ¬†I was hardly getting any breaks in between the contractions now and I suddenly felt compelled to call the midwife.
I coached myself out of the shower “ok, two more contractions and then we’re going to get out. ¬†Ok, one more and then we’re getting out of the shower.” ¬†(I was the doula and the mama today!) I made it! ¬†I leaned on the bathroom counter as another wave brought me into a deep squat, with a long deep “open” coming from my mouth. ¬†As soon as it was over I ¬†moved quickly¬†to the top of the stairs -just as another one hit. ¬†When it was over I yelled for Vince. ¬†”Call the midwife now!” and another one hit. ¬†I stood there leaned against the wall in the hallways to work through it, and then went back to the bedroom and got down on my knees. ¬†I leaned with my arms forward over our bed and continued to rock and moan. ¬†I heard Vince come up the stairs and turn the shower off, and then he was next to me. ¬†He was on the phone and then I heard him say the midwife was on her way, and it seemed like no time at all before she was beside me and I was back in the bathroom leaned against the counter squatting and swaying again.
Suddenly I was having slightly longer breaks between my contractions. ¬†”Oh no” I thought, and then I said, panting “maybe I called you too soon, I don’t know, I just wasn’t getting a break, but now they are spacing out again. ¬†I’m sorry”. ¬†My midwife reassured me that it was ok. ¬†”You’re all alone, Vince has to take care of the kids, maybe you just need someone with you, so I’m here – I’m with you!”
She asked me to sit on the toilet and see how that felt – well anyone that’s sat on the toilet in active labour can tell you it sure does the trick to ramp up the pressure! ¬†I knew she wanted to get an idea of where I was at – and there are 2 great ways I know of to assess where a mama is in her labour. ¬†It got the contractions closer together again, but it was unbearable. ¬†I was curling my toes and holding my belly trying to keep my tones low. ¬†After only a few minutes I said “I don’t want to be here anymore” ¬†and went back to my position leaning against the counter. ¬†Then back to the bedroom on my knees leaned over my bed. ¬†Suddenly the boys were bouncing on the bed in front of me. ¬†They were excited! They’d been read “We’re Having a HomeBirth” several times, and they knew exactly what all this noise and excitement meant!
I told Vince I wanted to get in the pool NOW! ¬†And after me instructing him NOT to dare fill the pool all day, because I was sure things were going to take a long time, he was suddenly frantically filling it as fast as possible. ¬†My midwife wanted to check me, and I told her no – I said “if I’m only 5 cm I’m going to want to go to the hospital, and I don’t want to, so I just don’t want to know”. ¬†Vince was with us again, and he watched as my midwife gently tried to reason with me that if she could just check me then she would know if she needed to call the other midwives. ¬†I could feel her lifting the duvet I had draped over me, I knew she was looking for other signs to avoid checking me internally. ¬†Finally ¬†I consented, but told her not to tell me where I was at. ¬†Vince sat in front of me on the bed while my midwife skilfully¬†assessed me without making me move from my favourite labouring position. ¬†She left the room and I told Vince “I can’t do this anymore, it’s too intense”. ¬†In retrospect I should have recognized the classic signs of transition, but of course when it’s ourselves, it’s harder to do. ¬†He looked at me and said – “you’re doing so well though, she just held up a lot of fingers behind you to tell me – 8 or something, you’re almost there!”
I was SO relieved. ¬†’8 cm? ¬†Ok, the baby will be here so soon, I can do it then’ – it’s supposed to be this intense at 8, I just had myself convinced I was only 5! ¬†The midwife came back and said she’d called the others, and now was a good time to get in the pool. ¬†I only had a lip! ¬†(Meaning I was 9.5 cm) ¬†She told us she needed to get her equipment setup right away, and got to it. ¬†Vince ran back to check on the pool and the boys. ¬†I made my way to the top of the stairs again. ¬†I had the sense to call to someone to close the blinds so I wasn’t flashing the neighbours coming down the stairs. ¬†I was aware but unable to care that I was dripping blood on our white carpet (it’s common for there to be blood with cervical changes), and I ¬†made my way down the stairs slowly. ¬†I was wishing Vince was with me and not the kids. ¬†”Why didn’t I have a back up doula and backup child care?” I wondered as things became frantic in the house. ¬†I was alone trying to get into the tub – Vince and the midwife were doing REALLY important jobs taking care of the kids, and getting the equipment¬†set-up¬†for delivery in case my late baby or I needed any assistance. ¬†I couldn’t control it though, as I tried to get in the pool I just yelled “Help me!” The intensity was overwhelming me, and my midwife was right there to help me into the pool, then she raced back to finish setting up. ¬†It was 8:45pm. ¬†I felt my body bear down uncontrollably.
I was again on my knees, this time in the water with my arms and head draped over the side of the pool. ¬†The water felt so good. ¬†The midwife noted that the pool was too shallow, and told me I couldn’t deliver in there like that. ¬†Vince was filling the pool as fast as he could. ¬†I told her there was no way I was getting out, so she just told me I had to keep my bum in the water! ¬†This forced me to do a deeper squat, but I was happy with that.
Suddenly the doorbell rang as I was now doing the higher pitched moans associated with the intensity of baby’s head moving down. ¬†I later learned that our friends who were there to pick up the boys had looks of horror (they’d never seen a natural labour before), and there were neighbours standing outside peering in hahaha ¬†I’m not quiet!
I yelled to Vince when the wave passed – “I don’t want the boys going anywhere!”
“What? ¬†They’re in their pajamas, they’re going to go over there, it’s fine”
“NO! ¬†The baby is almost here, I want them here to meet the baby. ¬†Get her to take them upstairs with a story while I push” ¬†And another wave hit. ¬†I worked with my body’s instinct bearing down, pushing my baby down and down. ¬†Vince established the new plan with our friend and got the boys upstairs with books to read with our friend. ¬†My midwife continued reassuring me I was doing things perfectly. ¬†My body was tense, I was overwhelmed with the intensity and the franticness of how quickly the baby was coming, and arranging our child care! ¬†The phone rang and Vince answered it while I was between contractions – “we’re in a break right now” he said filling another pot with water to add to the pool. ¬†The poor guy he had no idea how fast things were going now! ¬†”Get off the #@*!ing phone!” I yelled. ¬†I always tell people ¬†- you can never take offense to how a woman…communicates in labour. ¬†It’s raw, you don’t have time to think before you speak, you are busy and sometimes a grunt is all you can muster. ¬†Vince hung up immediately and sat in front of me, trying to offer some comfort – but we were both just caught completely off guard by this speedy process.
I felt my other midwife come into the room. ¬†She knew not to knock or ring a doorbell, she just came up to our dining room where I was in the birth tub. ¬†”Hi Emily” she said gently putting a hand on my shoulder. ¬†I didn’t respond. ¬†I was in a break and had my eyes closed. ¬†”Soften your body” she reminded me, and I melted completely. ¬†Ah yes – I needed that reminder. ¬†Suddenly I was calm – we needed this other person, this other woman here. ¬†There is too much going on for there not to be another experienced person to keep things calm.
I don’t have any regrets about this birth, but I really am deeply aware of what a difference having had a backup doula would have made! Again, we just didn’t anticipate that I would deliver so late, and that our chosen doula would have left town – she was completely up front about her departure date, and we knew ahead of time – we just somehow failed to plan.
So here we were. ¬†Vince was beside me now where I wanted him, one midwife had a hand on me transferring the most calming and grounding energy, and the other midwife was behind me with a hand on my baby’s head, protecting my perineum and coaching me where to put my hands and when to slow down my pushing. ¬†It was intesne. ¬†I hadn’t felt this part of my labour with my son, and I was shocked by the sensations. ¬†With my posterior baby I really didn’t feel the “ring of fire” in my perineum, I felt it ALL in my bum – the whole way through.
I don’t know how the rest of it happened, I pushed a few more times, and my baby was out – I love that moment they have left your body. ¬†Even with the epidural in Ethan’s delivery I felt that – this sudden relief, not an emotional relief (although that too I suppose) but it’s like your body feels relief as their weight is suddenly their own, and not your body’s anymore. ¬†She was out, and my midwife told me to turn around and hold my baby. ¬†Apparently Vince helped catch her, but again I don’t know how this all happened – I was in labour land! ¬†I don’t know how I turned around or how they guided the baby and umbilical cord so we didn’t all get tangled, but suddenly i was sitting with my back supported by the pool, and she was in my arms. ¬†Staring wide eyed at me. ¬†She was silent. ¬†”Breathe baby” I said. ¬†”Oh she is Emily!” Someone reassured me. ¬†”Look how pink she is, she’s breathing, she’s just really clear and quiet.” ¬†And as many water birth babies – she was, she didn’t make a sound. ¬†There was no gurgling and snuffling of mucus. ¬†Just clear bright eyes staring into mine. ¬†Someone went and got the boys, I was going to stop them because I thought the blood in the pool would scare them, but Vince reminded me they knew from the book, and that they should be here. ¬†We hadn’t actually checked what sex she was yet. ¬†We were waiting for the boys.
Ethan and Aiden came downstairs looking cute and cozy in their sleepers. ¬†They stood next to me behind the pool, and stared at their baby. ¬†I can’t remember which one of them told me she was a girl. ¬† The cord had stopped pulsing, so Ethan cut it – what a proud moment for all of us that he got to do that!
“Hello Camille” I said – we had our baby girl. ¬†We all sat staring at each other, falling in love.