Where did you give birth? At home
Was your birth medicated or unmedicated? Unmedicated, The Bradley Method
Is this your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc child? 1st
Who attended your birth? Doula, Midwives
Overall, are you happy with your birth experience? Yes, it was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, but I would do it again in a heartbeat! Having a supportive birth team made all the difference.
Was the birth of your child professionally photographed? Yes, by Lyndsay Stradtner of Life in Motion Photography. You can view the blog post here and the complete birth slideshow here.
I was 38.5 weeks pregnant, due Friday November 20th. I was planning to work right up to my due date and was going through life as though that is exactly what would happen. On the night of Tuesday November 10th, the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been experiencing for a few days changed dramatically and I had a feeling I was going into labor. Around midnight I got up out of bed to walk around. I knew I needed to rest, but it was starting to take my attention to get through the contractions and I was really excited to meet our little baby girl. I woke my husband, Ethan up at 1:30 and told him I thought this was the real deal. He sleepily suggested I go back to sleep. Probably good advice as we were in for a long day! I went downstairs and tried to rest on the couch. Finally at 5 am I made some calls to my midwife, Mary; our doula, Majbritt; and our birth photographer, Lyndsay; and my sister, Karen. Everyone started heading our way.
Mary got to our house around 6 am and checked me. I was 100% effaced and she was really, really low, however I was still only 1.5 cm dilated. Mary stressed how important it would be get some sleep as we were going to need lots of energy to get our baby out. I tried to lay down and rest for about an hour or so. The contractions were coming on much stronger, it was then that I was especially thankful we were birthing at home. I got to labor outside for a while, I could eat whatever I wanted and I had everything I needed right there. Our team was assembled and things were picking up steam. Ethan called Mary around 2pm and let her know how things were going. She decided to head back to our house.
At this point, although the contractions were much more intense, I was doing pretty well managing them. I had gotten into the shower, the tub and tried various positions on the bed, floor and standing. I still had my wits about me enough to remember that I needed to keep my moans nice and low and do my best to breathe through them. In between contractions, the release from discomfort was amazing! I said several times, “I need to be thankful for this moment”. Mary checked me and determined that I had progressed to 8 cm! We were WELL on our way. She suggested that I start trying to push through the contractions a little, everyone seemed to think the baby would be here soon.
Mary checked me again late in the afternoon and realized that her earlier assessment had been a little too optimistic. I was still at 7-8 cm dilated… in all those hours I hadn’t made much progress. By this time I was experiencing some extremely intense back labor and the contractions were coming 2 at a time. The pain was excruciating and all my techniques were thrown out the window. Mary thought this was because the baby was still posterior in position, her back faced my back. I resorted to screaming my head off, swearing uncontrollably and doing anything I could to hold onto my sanity. At some point we decided to break my waters hoping this would move things along. Although it had a minimal effect on the dilation of my cervix, it did make the contractions seem to reach a whole new level of intensity.
It was during these several hours that my team became my life savers. Ethan was right there by my side every minute of it. I don’t know how he watched me going through that, if he ever wavered in his confidence that I could do this, he did not let me know. He would warm me up with covers and cool me down with a fan for hours when my body temperature was fluctuating every 2 minutes. He supported me physically as I tried to move into different positions, and he showed me a love that went beyond encouraging words, or holding my hand. I could just feel it, deep in my bones. Karen and Majbritt were like the perfect back up singers, always there, believing in me and willing to do ANYTHING. Trust me, I was a demanding laboring woman. Most of the time I hated touch, it felt like razor blades. Other times I begged them to not move their hands off me. My needs were unpredictable and shared LOUDLY! Mary was steady and constant, reminding me that I needed to believe that I could get this baby out. She always had the right things to say and brought a grounding presence into the room.
Around 9 pm I hit a wall, hard. I was out of my mind in pain and desperately wanted pain medication. I was screaming and swearing like a lunatic and truly believed that I could not do it. Mary had one more trick to try, but I needed to be willing to let her do it. she wanted to push back the rest of my cervix during a contraction, while I was sitting on the dreaded birth stool, to help me become fully dilated. It sounded like a horribly painful idea, but my only other choice was to make the long journey to the hospital. I could not make up my mind. I just wanted the pain to stop. Majbritt finally came to the rescue. She very intensely suggested that someone needed to take charge, and she was going to do it. She said there is no reason to NOT let Mary try this technique and if it didn’t work we could go to the hospital. She also let me know that going to the hospital would be quite a process and I wouldn’t probably even get pain medication for another couple of hours. I finally complied and somehow managed to move myself from the bed to the birth stool. Mary came in and got to work. It took 3 or 4 contractions before I heard Mary share those magical words, “you are fully dilated”.
Then the fun really began. The contractions, which were already coming 2 at a time, became much more intense. As I began to learn how to push, I tried being in several different positions, hands and knees on the bed and on the floor, the birth stool, even the toilet. While sitting on the toilet, I learned how to let my body ride out the push.
Eventually they told me I needed to move back to the birth stool, which I was not a fan of! I had to pull on the legs of the birth stool during the pushes and it took a lot of energy! Ethan sat behind me during this process until Cammie, the other midwife, told him “Dad if you you want to catch this kid you need to switch with me.” Ethan was surprised because he didn’t think she was coming already!
Ethan came around to the front and the energy of the room felt so much lighter as she began to crown. Everyone kept saying, “she’s coming, she’s coming”. I felt really encouraged! Even though it burned alot, I did my best to listen and slowly let Daisy come out. Eventually she did tumble out all slippery and beautiful! Her dad’s big hands caught her as she entered the world. There was something wrong – we didn’t hear her cry. Mary immediately had me move to the bed, she was still attached to me by the umbilical cord. Her color was perfect and she had a strong heart beat, but she wasn’t breathing on her own. We called Daisy’s name and begged her to cry out. Mary suctioned some fluid from her lungs and then gave Daisy 6-8 puffs of oxygen. Finally she let out a cry and it was like music to our ears! Mary said she was only 1 minute from calling EMS to come. We are so thankful Daisy was able to come around on her own with a little help from Mary.
Mary told us later how amazing it was that my placenta pulsed for about 30 minutes, as this is almost twice as long as most placentas. Our baby girl was never without oxygenated blood and she got lots of good extra stem cells even after she started breathing on her own. Daisy nursed for and hour and a half. Our amazing birth photographer, Lyndsay stayed late into the night to capture all of the special newborn moments. Our birth photos are now among some of our most special possessions!
So, almost 24 hours after going into labor, our baby, Daisy Richele, arrived. It feels good to be able to write that in a simple sentence… Ethan and I, and our birthing team, know the full story.