Story told by Lyra's mother.
I woke up like a light to what I knew was a contraction. I could feel that birthing energy running through my veins right away. I hopped up to check the time and it was 2:51am. I had gone to bed thinking it would be at least another week before baby made her appearance. In fact I had come home and was steam mopping the floors at 9 pm
that night when my hubby had mentioned he thought it might be tonight. I hadn’t had any signs of labor whatsoever though so assured him it wasn’t time. He’s pretty in tune with my birthing. If there’s a next time I will definitely trust him.
When I woke up to the contraction I figured I would be in it for the long haul and didn’t want to get too excited too soon so I did a few things around the house. I brushed my teeth and walked outside to get some fresh air. It was freezing! I had another contraction about ten minutes later so I decided to pull up the contraction timer app and start keeping track. I texted my mom to share my excitement that baby was likely on her way. I tried to lay down to rest but there was no way I could stay still with all this energy flowing. The waves kept coming. They felt nice and rhythmic and I was reminded of the intensity that only birthing brings. After a few I decided I’d call the midwives to let them know. My first birth had gone pretty smooth and fast so we had planned on calling after just a couple rushes. I had woken her up so just let her know it might be too soon but I was having contractions. We decided I’d time them for another half hour and call her back. I pulled out some laundry to fold to keep myself occupied and when I did the contraction app popped up a message that it was time to head to the hospital.
The boys were sleeping on the couch that night so I snuck in to wake up hubby. He asked me how I was feeling and I replied, “I feel like I’m having a baby!”. He was very excited and got up to get things ready around the house. He’s the absolute best birth partner I could ask for. Calm and confident in me. Always loving and supportive. I went back to folding laundry and he stood behind me through a rush holding my hips. I think they picked up speed then with the feeling of safety that he surrounds me with. He was getting the pool up and things in place while I was still texting the midwife. She was on her way by this point.
Our 2.5 yr old son woke up to the sound of the air pump blowing up the pool. I was trying to change out the sheets in the other room when I heard Papa having a talk with him to let him know this would be a big event and it’s time for him to be a big help to mama. Fortunately he was in a great mood and also super cute coming in to tell me we should probably take a rest and tell stories. I was working through contractions and trying to get the sheets changed over at the same time, on my hands and knees through most of them. When I got a chance to lay down with the boy to try to tell a story I couldn’t lay and had to move. My waters broke and hubby was on the phone with the midwife so I yelled to the other room to let them know. My sweet son gets up and tells me, “We’ll get you fixed water mama”. I knew that things were about to move even faster at that point. The midwife was just around the corner at that point and arrived shortly after.
I had been upright through all this, either leaning on something, over the birth ball or hands and knees for the rushes. I had gone in to turn the bathtub water on a few times but quickly turned it off because I didn’t want to waste hot water in the little tub when we needed to fill up the birth pool. I felt a very strong downward pressure on my perineum so was in the bathroom when the midwife arrived and listened to baby’s heart beat. She was strong and steady. She went in the other room to finish preparations for the water birth we were planning.
Then, surprise! In one strong rush I felt baby move down through my birth canal to almost crowning. The sounds I made brought hubby and midwife into the room with me. It was a mad rush to get towels down on the floor as I was on the toilet and for the midwife to get her gloves on. I had whipped past transition and was in full blown birthing mode. She urged me to get off the toilet which I felt was impossible. Her calm voice assured me that I didn’t want to have this baby where I was, I could move and I needed to now. I reached over to turn on the tub water thinking I still had time to fill at least that. I got as far as my knees on the floor where I could lean on to shelf in front of me. Another contraction and she was crowning. It was intense yet totally manageable and it felt great to know that this was it. The toddler walked in to the sounds of the tub excited about a bath and started dropping his pants at the door. I said I wanted to get in the water and the midwife kindly laughed and said this baby’s coming now. Another contraction and her head was out, another and she was earthside. No intentional pushing on my part. I finally had experienced the fetal ejection reflex in it’s pure form! My sweet toddler exclaimed, “There she is! She was in Mama’s belly!” and laughed. How grateful I am that he got to share this experience with us!
I moved to the bed and enjoyed the feel of her on my chest while we waited for the placenta. I had hemorrhaged after my first birth so we were patient waiting at least a half hour after this birth to deliver the placenta. She’s just perfect. Apgar of 10, weighing 7 lbs 5 oz and 18” long. She was born at 4:20 am, just 10 minutes after the midwife had arrived. Welcome to the family baby girl!
I had my check up with Angela Tuesday morning and she asked about any change in discharge and I flippantly told her I've never seen my mucus plugs, so I didn't expect to this time either. But lo and behold what should I discover that evening, at the family Christmas party that evening? Yup, snot, pretty gross. Also, I was sweating hot (in my t-Shirt while everyone else was bundled in sweaters) and having a lot of Braxton hicks, so I was feeling kind of grouchy and in a hurry to get the kids, and me, home to bed.
On the way home I texted Angela that I had been passing mucus, she thanked me. I inflated the birth pool, just in case, while Jeremy put the kids to bed, and we were all settled to bed by about 10. At 11ish, 12ish, 1ish, 2ish, and 3ish, I was awoken by contractions that hurt, but not super bad, so I tried to sleep some. Then from about3:50 on they were about every 10 minutes. About 45-60 second long and painful, but totally cope-able. I wasn't sure what to do, because that had never happened to me before. (All I knew of going into labor on my own was extreme intense full-blown contractions going from 10/15 mins apart to less than 2 apart in under an hour.) After 5 of those, I figured, well I better call at least, because I have no idea what to expect. Angela said she and Kai would head over. To call, I stood up and the contractions came more often. So I told her that too. She said to start filling the pool with water.
I called Mom, to give her a heads up that we probably would be needing her to take the kids.
Once we got the shower curtain on the bed and the pool filling, I felt tired, so I figured I'd lay down. I'd still been having lots of contractions, but was still talking through them fine. As soon as I laid down the contractions went back to 10 mins apart, so then I started feeling dumb like I was giving a false alarm blah blah blah.
Angela and Kai got to the house about 5:15/5:30 and were all pumped about baby coming and I was like "I dunno, this might not be real." Since seriously every single time I laid down, things all but stopped.
Jeremy made some breakfast, we all ate, I took a shower, the kids got up and ate. Then I asked them to check me, before having Mom get the kids, because I felt like maybe I was just being a baby. They chuckled at that and checked. I was at 4cm, but baby was still really high. So they said that baby's definitely on its way, I'm not being a baby, not wasting their time, etc, etc. That was about 7:30.
So, Mom picked up the kids about 8:00, Jeremy went to haul a load of gravel for the driveway he's building to the back of our shop, and I went for a nap. Dunno what the MWs did, I think mostly visited. Oh and by then Alexandra had arrived as well.
After resting and dozing for about an hour, during which I had all of like 5 contractions, a little more intense, but still not horrible, I went out to the kitchen to check my texts that I kept hearing and stand leaning with elbows on the counter. Contractions immediately increased to every few mins, Angela massaged my back and supported my belly with a wrap thing. I decided to get in the pool. And they slowed down again. I hung out in the pool, visited with Jeremy, played candy crush on my phone, and dealt with the occasional marginally more intense contractions, for about 2 hours, 'til 11ish. Then I was starting to feel like having some lunch and Kai asked if she could check me again while I was out and suggested that after eating I try being more upright again for awhile to utilize gravity.
I was at 6, baby still high. So progress, but not huge.
Jeremy made me a tuna sandwich and I ate most of it sitting out in the living room, but had 2 or three pretty intense contractions and abandoned the last few bites for rocking on my hands and knees with Alexandra doing counter pressure. There was definitely a turn in the action at that point, because I couldn't talk much at all anymore, they were coming much faster, and I needed Jeremy right there, not doing anything else. And the sun shining in the window was too stinking hot. I stripped down to my bra and maxi skirt/dress and they took turns fanning me and applying counter pressure, while I braced myself against the wall and rocked and swayed through several contractions. They suggested the pool again, but I felt like I had to stand now. I went pee, and they said try a couple contractions on the toilet, but I couldn't handle them sitting down, so up I got. Back to bracing, rocking, and swaying. And getting after Jeremy for not putting enough pressure and/or getting in the way of my sway (lol). After a awhile my arms were getting really tired of holding me up, so they suggested leaning on the counter again. Back out to the kitchen, by then it was about noon. Same stuff, different place, definitely easier to support with my elbows on counter than hands on wall. After about 45 mins, I realized I kind of felt like maybe pushing a little, but couldn't let myself try at all because I didn't want to poop the kitchen floor, plus I felt like I needed to lean back, not forward and be able to rest in the gaps, little though they were. So I went back in the tub. Slowed the contractions way way down, freaking me out, because I wanted that baby out soooo bad. The MWs said I was far enough, the water wasn't going to cause a stall, just relax and enjoy the breaks. Oh and were the breaks ever nice! It was such a luxury to be able to just flop between contractions. First, I kind of sat/reclined, then I went on my knees and hung my head and arms over the side. After a while (time was now completely irrelevant and I couldn't see a clock), I got the shakes so bad my teeth were chattering, so they put hot washcloths on my back and assured me that it was a good sign: hormones shifting. I started feeling like pushing some at the end of each contraction, and the MWs said to try being more upright again. The contractions were more often again, but never returned to back-to-back the way they were just before I got in the pool. So I sat back on my knees, but that hurt my legs after a couple contractions, so I went to reclined-ish with my back against the side. I pushed through a couple contractions, one of which really felt like progress. Then they had me shift a little, and I pushed through a few more, but felt like I was getting nowhere. Alexandra asked if I minded if she checked if maybe things were hung up by a "big ol' bag of waters." She felt with a finger, said yup and my water broke, and I HAD to push for real. It hurt, but it felt so good to feel progress! As baby crowned, they told me to pant for a bit to let myself stretch, then I pushed the rest of the way and as they lifted baby up, they realized the cord had busted! So they grabbed the ends, put baby on my chest, and clamped the cord ends as fast as they could. Then we realized we didn't know yet boy or girl so Jeremy checked and it's a girl!
Since the cord had bled out a bit, there was enough blood in the water that they couldn't tell for sure if I was still bleeding or if it was just from the cord. So I passed Mallory to Jeremy, squatted to push the placenta out a.s.a.p. and they gave me some herbs and a shot of pitocin while helping me up to the bed. Turns out I was fine, it was mainly just from the cord, so still from me, but stopped.
So we found out why she was so high every time they checked; she was wrapped in the cord. It wasn't tight or around her neck, but it was holding her up. And the joint force of the water breaking and me pushing, broke it. In not one, but two, places! So crazy amazing how God kept her and that cord protected to the very last second. That's why the whole labor was so different and slowed so much every time gravity wasn't helping. Also, with the panting and water, I only a tiny bit re-tore, no stitches needed!
At 1 am on 11/6 (10 days before my due date), right as I had just fallen asleep, I woke up to a huge warm gush of my water breaking. I had never had my water break before the pushing stage, so it was quite the surprise and strange sensation.
I woke up Dan who got me some towels and then I texted my midwife to let her know what had happened and see what I should do. I wasn't having contractions and the water kept leaking out, so I was worried about sitting up because of the risk of cord prolapse that i think I had read about somewhere. but I also really needed to go to the bathroom! My MW gave me the green light to get up and said she'd be over to set up the tub and all her supplies.
Because of the SROM, I wasn't supposed to check my dilation, and since I didn't feel any contractions, I didn't really have a good idea of whether I was in actual labor or not. I did have some loose bowels, which could be a sign of labor, but I had also just chugged a bunch of natural calm to prevent anxiety before bed, so I assumed it was due to too much magnesium.
Dan remade the bed with a plastic sheet underneath and we decided to go back to bed and try to sleep and hopefully by morning it'd be more clear if this was "it" or not. my MW came over, inflated the tub and set up, gave me hugs and said she thought it was going to happen today, and to call again if something happened, but if not, she'd be back in the morning.
Not sure how much sleep I actually got, but i rested till about 7 am when esmee's alarm went off. We told her we were going to have a baby and let her stay home from school. Around 9 am, I got up again to use the bathroom and saw some bloody show. I was also having some really mild, spaced out contractions, and I was thinking this was going to turn into another a long, but slow and mellow labor, like esmee's 36 hr one.
Dan made me an egg for breakfast, I took a shower and went downstairs. My MW and the student MW were both downstairs sitting on the couch. the kids were being kids and I think whatever contractions I was having just kinda stopped with all the commotion and people around, as well as a sudden subtle feeling that i was expected to "preform." I decided I wanted to go for a walk around the block to see if anything interesting happened. while walking I had a few contractions again, but really I thought all they did was make me need to pee. we came back home and i really felt like not much was going on.
Luckily, my MW had a stroke of genius and told me to go back upstairs and take a nap and rest, which might help relax me. She must have sensed that I needed to crawl back into my cave and be undisturbed. I figured I might as well try it even though I wasn't tired, especially since I didn't know what else to do. It was amazing. as soon as I got into my bed, the contractions started back up. Then my MW arranged to take the kids to the park for a bit and Dan came upstair with me to rest as well. I started timing the contractions and dozing off in between them-- they were 1 min long, 5 mins apart, for about 2 hours from 2-4 pm. They were still manageable enough without any hypnosis, so I still didn't think i was really close to having a baby.
At some point around 4 pm, I needed to go to the bathroom again (sorry, but laboring really makes you need to go!) and suddenly I felt like I had to poop, which reminded me of the sensation of having to push. For a split second I thought it was time! I told Dan to text the MW to come back with the kids. I also asked him to get me my ipod, so I could start listening to my hypnobabies tracks. That clued him in that I was probably getting closer, so he also decided to fill the tub downstairs.
I got back in bed, covered myself with my blanket, and started listening to my birthing day hypnobabies track with the headphones in. I just wanted to get into that hypnosis state and lose track of time and just let me body do what it needed to do. In my mind, I repeated the words in the track about going loose and limp, relaxing, and only feeling pressure and tightening. I also kept thinking of myself as my baby's cheerleader every time I had a contraction and imagined her working her way out to the world. I thought of her as doing the hard work and my job was just to relax all my birthing muscles and let her find her way out. thinking about what a great job she was doing made me smile every time i had a contraction, but other than that I don't think I moved or made any sounds at all.
Despite being in a deep hypnosis, I was still aware of what was happening downstairs and around me. I heard my MW come back with the kids, and I could hear people tip toeing into the bedroom, probably peeking in on me to see what was happening, but i didn't want to budge or even open my eyes. I also had s sense of time because I knew the track was 39 mins long and it had already started playing a 2nd time, so I knew it was after 5 pm.
What I didn't know was that everyone else thought my labor had stalled and that I was just sleeping deeply!
At some point, while in hypnosis, I also heard my son crying downstairs. I heard dan trying to keep him quiet, and then suddenly it did get really quiet in the whole house. Of course, that was when I also realized the the last contraction I had had was massive. It also coincided with the hypnobabies track telling me that during the baby's actual birth all I would feel would be "comfort in my bottom," which actually made me laugh internally. Itried thinking of the sensation as "comfort in my bottom," but it just wasn't working for me. At the same time, I debated just picking up my leg and letting the baby slip right out. Instead, I decided that it would be better to get downstairs and into the water. I had a very hard time moving my body, so I started calling for Dan. Turns out he had taken Paz to the back yard to calm him and didn't hear me. I also called for my MW, but it turns out she had stepped outside for a minute to privately discuss what to do about kickstarting my labor with the other MWs.
I was able to sit up on the edge of the bed. I kept calling for Dan, but no one replied. For a moment, i started planning in my mind how I could give birth alone upstairs in my bed. I called Dan for a 5th time as I mentally planned to put pillows against the headboard and brace myself for the next massive contraction. Just then I heard him run up the stairs, and I told him he needed to get me into the pool fast.
While we were walking down the stairs, he called the MWs and told them we were getting into the pool NOW! They came rushing back in thru the front door right as I had gotten into the water.
At that point, I thought screw my ruptured membranes, and figured i could finally check my dilation to see what was really happening since I was now convinced this was real labor. Turns out the head was already there right at the opening, so I was already past any dilation checks and well past transition. On the next contraction i was pushing, pretty determined to get that baby out! I lost all sense of time, and felt like I had a long break before the next contraction, which made me really impatient. I just decided to push her out, not really even sure if i felt any more contractions. I paused for a little while to let the tissues stretch and then I pushed some more. I had absolutely no clue of how long any of it lasted, but afterwards the MWs told me the 2nd stage (the pushing stage) lasted 4 mins in total. The head was born at 6:06 pm, and what a relief that was! Then the rest of the baby came at 6:07 pm. I just burst into laughter-- it was such an amazing feeling to have it be over and done, and also kinda comical how i pretty much went from deep sleep-like hypnosis to giving birth within less than 5 minutes.
The kids were all there to see the birth of their new baby sister. It was all so perfect and special to have them all gathered and awake for the birth. Dan was there of course, right behind me with his hand touching me reassuringly the whole time (all 4 minutes, haha). The MW team (Alexandra Demetro, Angela Beach-Hart and Kai) was amazing and hands off and supportive in all the right ways.
Cord burning ceremony we let the placenta be birthed without cutting the cord in order to do a cord burning ceremony that all the family could participate in. The baby was attached to her placenta for about an hour after birth and then we burned the cord to separate her from it around 7 pm. The cord burning took almost 10 mins-- over twice as long as pushing, which we all laughed about. It was such a nice way to slow things down and enjoy the moment together as a new family of 5, now.
p.s. i'm up past 2 am writing this cause i'm on some kind of crazy awesome birth high and not tired at all. natural birth is the best drug out there!
Sterling’s due date was a Tuesday. I had just hired a new barista, Elise, so I met with her in the morning to get her paperwork filled out and did a quick orientation to the cafe. I had a nice visit from a lady named Amber and she told me her pleasant home birth story. I ran by the optometrist to pick up my new glasses. It was fun to answer with “Today!” when people asked when I was due.
I was really hungry so I grilled up a huge rib eye steak, an ear of corn and a big green salad. I ate every bite which surprised me because it was a lot of food even for my pregnant appetite! I then took a nice, long, 3 or 4 hour afternoon nap- much longer than usual. I was struggling with patience that day- I was ready!- so I really wanted to go into some nature to get some perspective. The problem was it was hot! Over 93 degrees I think, so I drove out to Tyron Creek where it’s nice and shady.
I took a slow walk, and repeated some affirmations in my head the whole time, “I trust my body to go into labor when it’s healthy for both of us.” “I trust my baby to descend with ease.” “My cervix opens with ease.” “My body was made for this.” “My body knows when to go into labor.” I sat in the covered porch area by the front and meditated on how beautiful the nature around me was while a lady came in and practiced tai chi. I went out for another loop through the park and continued to meditate and repeat the affirmations. The walk and the trees felt great.
When I got home my friend Jessica came over and we hung some art in the baby’s room and put up a cork board on his wall. We talked about how excited I was to birth and how confident I felt going into the experience. Before she left I mentioned to her that I was starting to feel a little crampy.
When I had the house to myself I felt the urge to sage smudge our home for his entry, something that I really wanted to do once the house was completely organized and before he made his arrival. I blasted some deep house music on the stereo while I tidied up, wiped down all the counters and surfaces and swept the floors. The house felt the most clean and organized it ever has been. I lit candles all around the house and it made a such a pleasant environment. I went around all the rooms, doors, windows and corners setting a good clean intention with the sage.
During the cleaning and smudging I felt more of the cramps and had thought about calling Perry but decided to wait. Shortly after I got done he came home and I was glad he did. His first impression was that I was smoking pot and couldn’t handle the smell of the sage. We talked a bit about the cramps and he decided he wanted to at least give the midwives a heads up so he texted the on-call number. Angela was the midwife on call and suggested that I try to get as much rest as possible so we laid down in bed and put on a movie. It didn’t last long because my cramps were getting uncomfortable to the point that I couldn’t lay still through them. I got up and wandered around the house and Perry got up with me. It was only midnight or 1am so we just put on some music and Perry lit candles for me and rubbed my back.
Then the cramps that I was having started to developed into a rhythm. I wasn’t able to talk through them. Perry had the insight to download a contraction timer and started timing them while he was comforting me and getting the house ready in case we were going into labor. I was moving around the house so much that I kept losing my water glass so perry placed a cup in each room so that I would always have one near by. I hadn’t grasped fully that I was in labor at this point because it just wasn’t that painful or out of my control and I hadn’t seem any labor indicators like mucus plug or water breaking. I think that Perry knew we were on our way though and got the bed ready with the liner and continued to update the midwife. I was called to the water and drew a bath. Perry was so sweet and attentive, bringing in candles and even making a bed on the floor in the bathroom that he could lay on to stay near me.
At that point my cramps started to feel like contractions and the water was so soothing. I think the water brought them on a little stronger but they were easier to handle. I approached them with a yogic breath focusing on the exhale. I felt the rush coming on, peaking and then easing away. I enjoyed the rhythm and the intensity. “My body was made for this,” “Surrender,” and “I can do anything for one minute” were my mantras. What I needed for myself was to be quiet and go inside to find my strength. Perry was having trouble knowing when they were starting and ending because I was so quiet about them but he caught on to my breathing patterns quickly.
I entered a state that was very trancelike. I think I fell asleep even between some of the contractions. Being in our home and together with Perry was comforting enough for me to zone into my body and lose track of time. I must have stayed in the same position in that tub for hours because the water had cooled and been reheated a few times. It was very peaceful. While Perry was texting with the midwife I decided that I wanted to get into the birth tub and I wanted her to get there to check things out. Both the midwife and the doula, Giuliana, got there about the same time. All my modesty that I thought would be an issue was out the window. It was also a strange, surreal reality because I didn’t have glasses on so couldn’t see who was arriving.
When Angela checked me I remember her saying “Oh! Your baby is so low!” and she said that I was about 6 centimeters dilated. When the tub was filled I got up to use the toilet and when I sat down there was a huge splash! We thought it was the mucus plug at the time but looking back it was my waters breaking. How convenient to be sitting on the toilet for that! I moved into the birthing tub and remember noticing that the sun was out by then. How amazingly comfortable that tub was with fresh hot water and room to float around!
I went quickly back into the trance and just breathed through contractions with the comfort of Perry and now Giuliana as well. The stereo was once again playing house music that soothed me. The midwives left to get coffee and while they were I gone I woke myself up out of the trance from a change in my breathing. Rather that quietly breathing through rhythmic contractions I was now moaning steadily and consistently through something that felt different. Almost less painful, yet more intense and engaged. Giuliana asked if I was ready to push, and looking back I think that I had just slept through transition.
When the midwives got back I was checked and she confirmed that I was complete and ready to push.
Pause. I just laid there and settled into that place. That place after the contractions, after transition yet before pushing. I felt comfortable and safe there. Where I was headed felt scary and painful. I felt my pelvis opening up and my baby’s head easing between my bones. It hurt. I was scared so I didn’t push myself any farther. I rested. Perry was in the tub with me by this point and held me while I enjoyed the place that I was in.
After quite a bit of time Angela came over and gave me some encouragement. She told me that I could keep doing what I was doing and the baby would eventually move down or I could go ahead and push and she thought he would come out fairly quickly. I wasn’t quite convinced yet that I could do it. I was afraid of the pain. I leaned over and told Alexandra that I was scarred. She assured me that I COULD do this and that I was already doing so well. With the midwives encouragement I accepted that It was a crazy place inside myself that I needed to go, but it’s what I had to do. I was ready to birth this baby.
I moved into a position where Perry was behind me pushing with as much pressure as he could into my lower back. He was nearly pushing me out of the water. I breathed my baby down. I felt the pain and I stayed with it. Giuliana, the midwives and Perry all cheered me on which was exactly what I needed right then. I pushed- something that I wasn’t prepared for but I did it with control. My contractions weren’t feeling strong so I asked for help. Kai pressed on some acupuncture points and Perry stimulated my nipples and the contractions instantly picked back up! My vagina opened smoothly and my baby moved down. After a while Angela said that I was crowning. My first thought was ‘What the heck was I doing for the last ten minutes?!” Honestly though, the pushing wasn’t bad, it actually got back to the rhythmic flow like contractions which felt nice. Getting his little head out was exciting and I was amazed and how easy his shoulders and the rest of his body slid out with the next push. Our baby was in this world.
Perry caught our little Sterling and brought him up to my chest. He reached up with a little hand taking in the outside air. What a incredible moment holding this little being for the first time. He wasn’t crying so Alexandra lifted him up to empty his lungs out and he let out a wale. Sterling was healthy as can be getting a 8/9 Apgar score. He weighed 8 lbs on the dot and was 20” long.
Welcome to the world my love, my first born.