With that said, I learned something amazing with each of my births. With both Thomas and Willow I learned how (to my core) I am concerned with other’s well being over my own; Willow’s birth more so. I am a shining example of how emotions can allow a labor to stop or to be drawn out when a mother is not in the protected birth space (location or mental) that she SHOULD be in. To be honest I spent my labor worried about my mother and grandmother and THEIR feelings. I worried about the unknown since she was my first home birth. I worried and worried. Overall I had a peaceful labor and a dream delivery … but I had to get out of my own head for it to happen.
You can read Willow’s birth story here
Willow’s 29 hours of labor, although overall perfect, had it’s flaws. I still look back at her birth with strong memories of upset when I think about how much pain was involved with my choice of not having my family there by my side, and even worse I knew the pain I had caused them by asking them to leave. I couldn’t come to terms with it then and didn’t mention it in my story because it hurt so much, but here is the truth: Both my mother and grandmother were extremely opposed to my choice to homebirth. The harsh & hurtful words of “Are you going to be able to live with yourself if your baby dies?” were spoken by my mother. It still upsets me. For these reasons and others I asked for them to not be in attendance. I was trying to protect my space, however the emotions that I held in played a toll on my labor. I honestly feel that my fears and upsets are what led to a 2 day labor. Notice I didn’t mention Lily’s birth. Two hours … little fear. Hmmmm …. maybe my state of mind really does play out into my labors.
Why are these observations so important to me in the telling of Lorelei’s birth? It was this knowledge that led me to do a self-experiment with labor and how I would like my next birth to play out.
Lorelei's Birth Story - August 2013
What do “I” want? How do “I” want to feel? Well, after several years of studying birth – another homebirth was a no brainer. Still, I had to deal with my emotional blocks from the last birth. I had to heal. Sharing her story with the world and sharing how powerful birth can be helped, yet I knew that I had to deal with the events that stalled my last labor. Within weeks of telling my mom we were pregnant again, I had to change our path. Even AFTER Willow was born my mom laid on the guilt over what her and my grandmother went through. I announced my upcoming doula training, my desires for a perfect home birth, and my need for her to attend. In the same breath I also announced that I was more than educated and if she were to be allowed in my space there would be absolutely no negativity about it. Done. Easy. Now I could move past my past and put the focus on me this time.
Now the fun stuff :) This time I knew I wanted to better document our home birth. Despite being a birth photographer I did not have an official photographer at my last birth. There are only a small handful of photos to tell the story of my day, and I wanted that to be different. Also, I regretted not having a doula with Willow (that would have helped with the fear part). So, I set off to plan a beautiful celebration of life with my dearest friends (who just so happen to be doulas and photographers). This time I was going to be surrounded with love and had visions of a “blessing way” type of birth. Once I realized that being surrounded by people that I love was important to me, I also switched my midwives midway through my pregnancy to better accommodate my vision. Yup – that is right – you CAN change care providers even in the middle of your pregnancy. It’s your birth not theirs.
I also did two more things different this birth. 1) Since I was already educated about all things labor and delivery, and had made all the decisions I hoped for as far as delayed cord clamping, skin to skin, etc etc I made a choice to replace my reading material with uplifting birth stories. I refused to listen to people’s “horror stories” and indulged myself with books written by Ina May and read blogs such as birth without fear. I was so empowered and had a strong sense of I can do anything I set my mind to. This time I set my mind on a quick and easy delivery. 2) I coached my husband. Loren was a great support my last delivery, but even though I wanted a birth team of friends and family … my true need was for my memories to be with him. I let him know my need and asked for him to be in my face and constantly by my side so I could focus on what I needed to focus on. This above all is probably the most important thing to me in my labors – the need for my husband to be my constant everything. I love that man!
August 4, 2013 – 41 weeks pregnant
Mid July – I now look like I am carrying multiples – and let’s face it I was MISERABLE. My past three pregnancies I was the poster child for making it look effortless. Lol NOT this time. I was whiney, swollen, in pain, and begging for it to be over. Joyfully, I was blessed with my dearest friend from Florida who came to stay with me the weeks leading up to Lorelei’s arrival. Jenn helped with the kids, cleaned my house, cooked me meals, gave massages, and did some amazing hypnobirthing scripts with me. Can I just say, EVERYONE needs a PRE delivery doula?! I have never felt so loved on in my life. It was defiantly a time that I really needed the extra TLC (and the extra rest).
Sadly, July came and went, and with it my main doula had to return to Florida and my oldest child had to return to his home state both to return to school. Now, 41 weeks pregnant on August 6th I had lost part of my birth team- I was disappointed, but I was happy that my baby was getting to choose her own birthday. Thankfully, a friend of mine went into labor that very morning and allowed me to keep my mind off of any negativity. We had casually talked about me attending her birth if at all possible. She was due just two short weeks after me with twins WITH the same midwife I was using. We were so close in delivery dates that we joked about having to camp out at the same house in case we delivered at the same time. You can imagine my relief when she called to say it was time and I was NOT in labor. I was with her from 8am that morning and left her side by 9pm. The day was beautiful and blissfully emotional as I was able to be a part of two lives coming into this world. My midwife, Anne, made it a point to mention to me that I was acting weird the entire day. I thought she was crazy. I felt no different. I was wrong. Apparently, there was enough oxytocin from two deliveries that spurred the interest of my own baby to start her journey.
I arrived home at 10pm that evening and proceeded to edit a few photos from the day so I could post them for the mom right away, and wound down my work day with a bath. PS Just because her birth story is just as much part of my birth story check out Christy’s labor and delivery HERE by viewing the twin birth video.
Midnight rolled around and I was quick to fall asleep, exhausted from “working” 14 or so hours at 41 weeks pregnant. My “nap” was short (as to be expected when you are that far along in your pregnancy) and I reluctantly got up out of bed after having two small contractions. It was only 12:30am. I lazily got up and my sweet hubby fixed some oatmeal for me while I rested on the birth ball in my bedroom.
1:15am -I few more nearly un-noticeable contractions began coming more regularly and I went ahead and sent a text to my doula and midwife stating that I MAY be in labor but was unsure. In my gut I knew it was time, however I also knew that both my midwife and I had worked long hours that day and a good night’s rest would be needed before another long day of labor. I decided to go ahead and call my mom to come stay the night so she could be a part of this labor in its entirety.
I followed my phone calls with another bath determined to stall labor just a little longer. The warm bath felt so wonderful … and the contractions started to pick up. I knew the intensity of which I was craving the water was a sign that labor was here to stay and by 1:45 am I decided it was best to call the doula to make her way over. At this point I still wasn’t feeling anything extreme, but I caught myself in one surprising low moan and my “doula brain” made note. The funny thing is that although I was telling myself that vocalizations were serious, I still tried to rationalize the fact that I had only been having real contractions for 15 minutes and I needed to suck it up. I would be here awhile. Loren went ahead and called the midwife back on my request to ask what other methods we could try to slow labor till morning (how silly of me), and she suggested a small glass of wine to calm me down – to which my husband quickly obliged. I leaned up ever so slightly from the bath and chugged my glass of wine like a pro. I definitely felt a “change”… just not in the direction I had hoped.
1:54 am – Loren was back on the phone with the midwife telling her to go ahead and make her way over. I also remember asking for the birth pool to be brought as well. As a funny side note … the birth pool had been blown up and sitting in my bedroom for a week. Mid-morning we decided to tear the pool down and bring it over to Christy’s house since it was not in use at my own home. Anne politely agreed to grab another pool, which meant visiting another midwife on the other side of town in the middle of the night.
2:00 am – My mother had arrived and upon seeing her I crawled out of the bath and REALLY felt a giant surge hit. It was almost as if I was waiting for her to arrive. I literally crawled straight from the bath tub and went directly to my mom’s shoulders for a support hug. Out of all my labors I had never felt such a strong – long- and unyielding contraction. I somehow moved the 10-15 feet or so to the side of bed, and began my oh so favorite labor “dance” move with Loren. Only 5 minutes had passed and I don’t recall my contraction ending even once. With the fan blowing perfectly on my bare back (providing me the only relief I was able to achieve at the time) I remember looking up at Loren crying because I was unable to meditate. In my previous labors I was able to go into a rhythmic meditation with the ebb and flow of each contraction. This time there was no rhythm – no pattern – no break. My beautiful husband then leaned over in his shining moment of the year and began to verbally meditate in my behalf. I recall him creating a pattern of soft spoken word and telling me to vision I was sitting on the shoreline listening to the calming waves washing in. Peace. My ugly contraction finally let loose it’s grasp and allowed me to take a breath. The loud roar of that surge (all my other labors were fairly quiet as far as vocalization goes) woke up my sweet 2 year old Willow who still shares our room. My mom quietly picked her up from her bed and gave her a 1 minute speech about mommy being ok and that the baby was coming, then returned her to my bed. I had not planned on my children staying for the labor, so it never occurred to me that I should coach them to what happens in labor. I wanted so badly to talk to Willow and to tell her everything I had missed telling her the past 9 months, but before I got the chance the next contraction hit, and with my mother back at my side I leaned on the bedside braced around her waist. Sitting felt great, and I mentally planned the next contraction in my head before I stood. I requested the birth ball and asked my husband to sit on the edge of the bed so I could be supported by him. BIG MISTAKE. The next contraction began and I positioned myself as planned, but this time sitting was painful. The birth ball now caused ungodly amounts of pain. Once there, I wasn’t able to move and poor Loren was the target of my mistake. My elbows dug into his thighs and I held on to (read: clawed the crap out of) the small of his back until the contraction ended. I felt badly for my choice to sit and felt even worse for the torturous pain I placed on Loren. It didn’t even occur to me at the time, but looking back with a clear picture of the timeline, I am pretty sure that the baby was crowing when I had decided to sit.
2:11 am – Yes, you are reading this correctly. ELEVEN minutes of transitional labor (and only 3 contractions) later I stood off the birthing ball and felt my body baring down without my permission. My bag of water gushed on to my bedroom floor and a conversation to the midwife began … over the phone. My mother (oh my mother) responded to this event with a sharp “you’re not going to push” … to which a I growled out “oh, yes I am”! I could hear the uneasiness in my mother’s voice as she told me to lay on the bed. Despite the hectic panic I could feel in the air I never felt calmer in my life. I can do this! A huge conversation of medical know how and motherly instinct swarmed my brain in what seemed like one long lecture, but in reality could have only been less than a second, because I quickly responded “no” to my mom’s request. I know delivering on the bed would have been easier for her but I knew my body would deliver easier and safer with me standing using my bed as support. Looking back, the scene almost plays out as a comedy, although, I am probably the only one that views it this way. Seconds before my first push, Belinda, my on call doula walked in the door (coffee and camera in hand), and heard me scream. I suspect she discovered it was game on pretty quickly, and hurriedly directed herself to Willow’s side to provide my little girl with comfort. With my mom pressed between the bed and myself, and my husband at my back I took a deep breath and pushed. Her head delivered immediately and so my contraction ended. My husband AND my mother, overcome with every ounce of fear that I had released, urged me to keep pushing because she was blue in the face. My brain was again busy with “what to do next” as well as anatomy lessons and medical lessons. I was going over how to deliver a baby with such peace and confidence that any MD would be proud … however I wasn’t able to verbalize ANY of it. I couldn’t even request for them to grab the towels (that were 2 feet away) to catch what was about to be a very slippery baby. A lot of good my education did for my family lol. I thought all these things, but all I was able to muster was “she is ok – this is normal – she is ok”. For humor’s sake (TMI warning) I also remember demanding rather harshly for them to NOT touch my butt. Pushing with such vigor also created a terrible hemorrhoid. In what seemed like an eternity between pushes I looked at my baby girl sitting on the bed in front of me with an extreme look of concern on her face. “Mommy’s ok” I told her.
When my next contraction finally decided to show its face it came with great power. My mother had moved away to rush about in preparation. In an instant I found myself ripping my comforter apart with my fists and biting down on the blanket.
2: 20 am She was here. Daddy delivered our baby and swiftly passed her between my legs and into my arms. Let me just stop here and add a note. Thank goodness we had planned a homebirth. 20 minutes would not have been enough time to even make it to the car much less a hospital … but even though we planned to be at home we never planned unassisted. My husband has never even cut the cord with our previous children because he is too squeamish … and here he was delivering our baby! It was insane! As soon as I could hold her on my chest I rubbed her back pretty forcefully and she pinked immediately. She was beautiful.