Hip Labor? Baby J’s Home Birth

I started having contractions at 4am, but slept in between and did not time them. At 6:22 doula #1 texted me that she was home from another birth and was going to take care of her family and get some rest. Around 6:30 am, I let my midwife, other doula and mom know that things had started. We did a normal morning around the house, with a little extra cleaning. My contractions stayed 6-7 minutes apart, by 11 am I had spoken with my midwife and she planned on keeping all 3 of her afternoon appointments. This had me really discouraged. With that and the responsibilities of taking care of the kids, I felt that I was losing steam. I contacted the neighbors to see if the kids could play there for awhile, but they had already left for an activity. I called my mom and she picked them up, God bless her. I remember telling her: “No sugar, no gluten, no dairy!”

I told my husband that I needed to cancel my acupuncture appointment for 4pm, but I kind wanted to get in earlier. I wanted to know if I was making any progress, but I was afraid of discouragement. He convinced me to see the midwife in between her first two appointments. We went to her office and I was 5 cms! She decided to cancel her last appointment.

I was much more encouraged, so we went to see if I could get an earlier acupuncture appointment. One of my clients was the next person due for acupuncture, she was so sweet insisting that I go instead of her. They got both of us in, it was nice to rest but boy did the contractions get strong after that! Next we stopped at the smoothie shop and then went to the cafe to get lunch. I let the doulas know I planned to be home around 2pm and would likely need support after that. Doula #1 was still resting, so I knew she’d come a little later than doula #2.

Still pretty chill, getting my blood pressure checked in my bedroom

Still pretty chill, getting my blood pressure checked in my bedroom

We sat on the swing outside the cafe, and I felt the baby descend a little, so we decided to go home. My midwife came up and dropped off her supplies then went to grab some food from the grocery store. Doula #2 let me know she was on the way. I started feeling the pressure increase, and got very emotional. I called my midwife and told her we needed her as soon as she was done shopping, and that we were filling the pool. When she got there, I kept crying and saying, “I feel so emotional.” That was the scene when Doula #2 arrived.

I’m going to pause here and say, I have not had my postpartum visit yet, because I forgot to schedule it. So, dear doulas if you read this and some of the details are off, I apologize. Okay, disclaimer done.

Doula #2 arrived not long later and the photographer came. I got in the pool as soon as it was ready and declared “it’s magic.”

Photo Credit_ Michelle D. Hardy-2

I felt like I labored normally and beautifully, getting counter pressure during contractions, being supported by my husband and all these great women. Progress seemed ideal and I told my mom to bring the kids home around 5pm.

This was when it all changed

This was when it all changed

Then, it all changed. I started having considerable pain on the right side of my abdomen, and anterior and posterior right hip. I wanted to escape my body. Everyone was encouraging me, and I just felt so frustrated. No one seemed to get that something felt wrong to me. I started feeling like vomiting, but didn’t want to. Instead, I asked to be checked in my room. I threw up multiple times in my room and then shouted that I needed a chux pad, about one second after they got it under my feet my water broke.


I think I needed that downward pressure of vomiting to break the bag. I also felt pretty strongly that there were too many people: my mom, both kids, both doulas, both midwives, a photographer and my husband. I asked the doulas, photographer, mom and kids to leave. My son was sleeping in his room…I let him stay there.
A little while later, I decided to get in the shower, and my husband kept me company while I tried to get my brain around the pain I was feeling. The sensations were completely new to me. When I was ready to get out, I was swaying my hips in the kitchen and the student midwife was suggesting a belly band to support me. I couldn’t remember where my belly band was, so I suggested the Moby. It was uncomfortable. I asked for Doula #1 to come back and do counter pressure. She asked if Doula #2 could come in so they could alternate, and not get too worn out. I was fine with that, but it didn’t seem like it was helping.

Frustrated, I asked for another check. I was still 9- 9 1/2. I asked if my cervix moved at all when I pushed. That’s when my midwife realized the baby was not facing backwards, but facing my right hip. I asked people to call my chiropractor. Someone handed me the phone, I was like “can YOU please talk to her? I’m kinda busy.”

They talked to her, but she was an hour away. She gave my midwife suggestions. At that point my daughter was screaming about not wanting a new baby, because she would lose quality time with dada. My midwife was in my bedroom closet trying to get suggestions from the chiropractor. The student midwife had me lay on my right side, and my midwife came out and started massaging my right low back and butt. I put on my hypnosis recording. Midwife and doula switched out with the massaging. I could tell the position and massage was helping, and the recording was helping me focus on relaxing. I needed SO MUCH PRESSURE, so I asked my mom to come in. She massaged my low back and but for 40 minutes, God Bless her.

Meanwhile, we contacted my other chiropractor, but he was in appointments until 7pm, I asked that he come after he was done. It was time for me to switch to my left side couldn’t physically managed movement that quickly. As I transitioned, I felt pretty comfortable on hands/knees on the bed. I was still feeling all the pain and pressure the right side, but I wasn’t as discouraged. Even though I kept saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore”

By the time I was ready and physically able to get to my left side the chiropractor arrived. I told Doula #2 where to find my shorts and underwear, because he was my coworker and I refused to be naked. She gave me the underwear and shorts. I was holding them in my left hand and stood up when another contraction hit (My midwife kept saying we wouldn’t need him because there was no time, but I was insistent). In that contraction, I gave a strong push and my water broke-again!

My midwife told him to leave, that the baby was coming now. My husband brought my daughter in, she wanted to be present. I was just certain it was impossible for a baby to come out, the pressure was so intense and the pain was so strong. I guess my total pushing time was 13 minutes. I remember feeling the head come out first, then the body and I kept asking “where is my baby?, where is my baby?”

Of course, it was like 5 seconds while they got the cord unwrapped and handed her to me. I sat on the bed and remember being amazed at how much she resembled my daughter. My son came in a moment later, and someone started singing “Happy Birthday.” My son kept yelling “stop it. singing happy birthday.” and then he would growl. oh, so much love.

My daughter and husband cut the cord, that was his first time cutting it.

All in all, it was pretty amazing.

My First Time Giving Birth

www.sparklystefka.com-3I had a bit of a false start the day after my due date.  I had an acupuncture treatment and immediately experienced changes in cervical fluid.  We had a relaxing afternoon with irregular contractions for the rest of the day and night.  We watched Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (this was part of my birth plan, 12 hour labor, 12 hours of Tolkien seemed bearable to me!)  We didn’t get much sleep, and I monitored my temperature, but no progress in my contractions.

Around 6 am the next day my midwife sent me to L&D to have a ferning test to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid.  With our home-birth plan this was a necessary, but scary step.  If I was leaking amniotic fluid, I would have to stay in the hospital.

We saw my doctor in triage, had the test and an exam.  My water bag was intact and I was 3cm dilated.  She sent me home saying, “get some rest, you’ll be having this baby today.”

Later that day we took a nap, and I woke up around 3pm with contractions.  They were approximately 10 minutes apart.  After my husband woke up we watched The Two Towers, made dinner and chocolate chip walnut cookies.  He helped me through the contractions as they got “stronger, longer and closer together.”

About 9pm I decided to try and rest, but lying down was unbearable.  I used the hot shower a few times and it really helped.  At 1:07 am I called my midwife and doula.  I felt ready for encouragement and the contractions had been 4-5 minutes apart for over an hour.

By 1:50 am everyone had arrived and I was ready for a check, I was 5-6cm and really encouraged.  Everyone started filling the birth pool for me.  About and hour later I got in. . .MAGIC. . .It cut the pain in half.

I write this story almost four years after it happened, so the next few hours can be summarized by saying things got very intense, and I was very tired from not sleeping well the night before.

I managed my labor discomfort pretty well, but no trick worked for more than one contraction in a row.  I am sure it was hard work for my support team to find positions and comforting words.  Apparently, at one point I told my doula, “My body, blood and soul burn.”

I also got annoyed and told her that if the student midwife kept talking, I would kick her in the head.  I am happy to report that I simply yelled at her during the next contraction and never kicked her.

My husband made such beautiful environment for me: our Christmas tree was lit up, he made a lovely, relaxing playlist and had candles lit for me.  However, as the sun came up I felt discouraged, like I couldn’t possibly do this and of course that it would never end.

Sometime before 7am on Monday, I was complete and began gentle pushing.  It took quite some time to get the hang of all the sensations.  Pushing is hard work! After a little more than 3 hours of pushing (still in the pool) it all changed.

I was squatting and holding my husbands hands when I felt the baby crown.  In a split second I shouted, “It’s crowning, I have to push” and they told me to go ahead, and I said “I’ll tear if I push” and they told me “that’s okay”  I was so mad, how dare they say it was okay for me to tear.  However, the truth was that I HAD to push and had zero control over it.  Again in that split-second I stood up, my midwife shouted “don’t go back under the water”, and I pushed.  In one intense moment the baby came out, and my midwife caught the baby behind me.

I love the picture my doula caught, I won’t share it because it’s too private.  But just imagine a center, a football and a quarterback.  Only, it’s me, my baby and my midwife’s hands.  It was amazing.

A moment later, they helped me lift my right leg to bring the baby to my chest.  It was euphoria and lots of shaking.  She was covered with towels and the midwives were checking our vitals while my husband and I cried.  I kept saying, “hi baby, hi baby.”  A few moments later, I asked if we knew if the baby was a boy or a girl, and my midwife said we didn’t but we could check.

My husband pulled back the towels, peeked and announced ” baby is a little girl” and I cried loudly.  I was SO convinced I was having a boy, I couldn’t believe it, a girl!!

Everything else was unimportant to me, but they transferred me to a bed, someone gave me a blueberry smoothie and a cookie.  She latched perfectly, I delivered the placenta.

It certainly wasn’t everything I hoped for: She wasn’t born in water, and 20 hours is a whole work day longer than 12.  However, it was exactly what she needed, and I am so happy everything was fine for her birth to be at home.

A few visitors asked me that day, “Would you do it {at home} again?” My response was, “Well, I am never having another baby, but I would totally do a home birth again.”  Well, isn’t that silly?

Did you say anything crazy in your labor?  Were you right or wrong about your gender guess?

By the way, Return of the King was her first movie =)

C’s Birth Story

Today, I write about the birth of my son. I can’t believe this was already 2 years ago.  While this technically covers only the first 20 minutes of postpartum life, the lessons I learned at his birth carry through into my next two posts.  This post is less  perfect, from a writing perspective.  Why?  C just woke up from his nap and baby J is just about ready to nurse.  Postpartum life!

October 2, 2013

2:30 am 

I woke up to my first contraction,  I thought, “Why was I looking forward to this?” I texted my best friend, and I tried to stay quiet. I took a candlelit bath, and despite my quietness my daughter woke up. My husband, daughter and I had a snack and Z went back to bed.

5:30 am

H and I watched a little Lord of the Rings, and I let my midwife, doula and babysitter know that today was the day. We decided to go back to sleep, and woke up around 9am.

10:00 am

Playing with the ducks

Playing with the ducks

Since it was a surprisingly warm and sunny October day, we decided to go to the cafe. They have a little water fountain and Z played with the rubber ducks. We ran into a client of mine, sat with her while I had contractions.  Fortunately, this was a client who doula-ed for her friends births, so she wasn’t freaked out by it.

My contractions were consistent from the beginning, 7-8 minutes apart and 40-55 seconds long. I was able to relax in-between them, so it was a very manageable labor. I stopped in to my office to pick something and chatted with some friends before heading home.

11:00 am

Around this time, my midwife had taken her morning appointments in the neighborhood and brought her supplies up to our apartment. I remember asking her to check the baby’s position (but not my cervix). I really wanted that information,  to make sure I was using the right positions while I labored.  I didn’t want to find out I had very little dilation or effacement. Baby was in a good position, so I felt comfortable knowing she’d be nearby.  Meanwhile, my daughter was suspiciously quiet.  Since my husband was showering the midwife checked on her.  I heard her say, “Oh my!”  Yes, Z found her piggy paints (Thank God it was piggy paints and not regular nail polish). She painted her hands, legs, the carpet.  We scrubbed her and the carpet up before H was done showering.

Piggy Paints

Piggy Paints

12:00 pm

We thought Z would be napping soon, but she wasn’t. Our babysitter was having a root canal, back luck for everyone, I guess! It was a little hard to get the birth pool full, take care of her and manage my contractions. At this point we let my doula know we’d need support soon, we texted our babysitter to come as soon as it was safe for her to drive.

2:00 pm

Both my babysitter and my doula arrived when my midwife and I went in my room to be checked. I remember thinking to myself “It’s going to be posterior, only a little effaced and 1cm. Don’t be disappointed. Don’t be disappointed.” I was really concentrating on not being disappointed, I opened my eyes and my midwife said, “I’m going to call my student to come.”  I held my breath, preparing for disappointment. She continued, “Because you are 7cm.”

I was elated and shocked. Z was sleeping and I was still basking the amazingness of being 7cm at my first cervical check. This labor was so much easier to manage than my first. I could relax, be normal, smile for photos in between contractions. I recall offering to put on a movie and my midwife was like, “no, let’s just focus on this.”

4:00 pm

My midwife said that if I wanted to birth in the pool, I should probably get in. I was reluctant.  I was concerned that I would run out of coping techniques, and to me the birth pool is “bringing out the big guns” in a home birth setting. I swear those birth pools work like magic, cuts the pain in half.  I texted my best friend again, with a photo. I was 9cm, smiling and my hair was not messy yet. Awesome!



Of course that didn’t last long, and I wanted to get up to pee. It was too uncomfortable to sit during a contraction, so I stood in the shower and peed. I also had the urge to vomit, and I did a little. I remember being encouraged by that “transition! it’s almost over.”

That was the point when the emotions hit me. “I’m having this baby today, I’m not ready.” “I get to meet my baby today.” Most significantly, I felt afraid to push.

My best friend rocked her VBA2C earlier that year, and I remember her saying pushing wasn’t as hard as she expected. I really wanted to have an experience where my uterus did all the work. During contractions, I wanted to just let my body do the work. Perhaps a silly desire, but I was really hoping for that.

4:30 pm

I recall having a really intense contraction when my husband brought Z in and I looked at her and the pain stopped mid contraction. It was so strange. It was like she boosted the painkilling power of oxytocin. I remember her splashing me in the face, not wanting to get in the pool and saying, “oh mama. what’s happening to her?”

Splashing Water gives an Oxytocin boot, right?

Splashing Water gives
an Oxytocin boot, right?

5:30 pm

I asked to be checked again, because I was frustrated that I didn’t feel the “urge” to push, and I was a little concerned that my water had not broken. I started to wonder what it felt like to push a baby out with intact water bag. It scared me. As it turns out, I was 10cm.

I was expecting my mom to come and relieve the babysitter. She wasn’t there yet and I was feeling ready to push. I did my first push and was pretty loud. I decided I wanted Z to go outside, so I didn’t scare her.

I remember doing most of my laboring on hands-knees, in the pool with pressure on my sacrum. “Pressure!” was probably my most-used phrase that day.  H told me I turned to him and said, “I can’t do this!” and he told me “Yes you can.” I said, “Okay, I got this.”

This is really hard work

This is really hard work

I remember the intensity of the last few contractions so vividly, even though many details of most of the day are fuzzy now. I remember my midwife saying, “you have to do this for your baby.” I was so scared that I would tear, and another contraction hit and in my head I told the baby “I will do whatever you need me to do, to get you out safely” as I pushed. The water bag broke and I think that helped me get out of the fear zone.

Immediatlely, I knew I couldn’t push this baby out on hands and knees. I stopped pushing mid-contraction. When the contraction ended, I mustered all my strength to move my right leg. The next wave hit and I pushed a little, but I just couldn’t hold it. When it ended I got my left leg up and was in a squatting position. I started pushing with the contractions. I remember feeling the baby’s body move through me, it was so intense and different from Z’s birth. I felt the ring of fire., The midwife said she would hold the head under water, until the whole body came out. I pushed at least twice more as baby came out.

6:14 pm

6:14 pm

The most powerful moment of my whole labor was when the midwife handed me our baby, through my legs and I pulled the baby on to my chest. It was incredible. Of course the midwives did all their work checking vitals and keeping baby warm with towels on my chest. I remember peeking to find out the gender, a boy! I remember greeting him by name. Z came in and was a bundle of nervous energy. My husband says her heart was pounding, she had no interest in her brother and started playing with a flashlight.

It's a Boy!

It’s a Boy!

The 4th stage started really fast and I just HAD to get out of the pool, it was so uncomfortable. I stood up, I remember them telling me to take my time, but I could not sit. I transferred to the table and delivered the placenta quickly (it was pretty messy, just ask the student midwife’s jeans).

It’s interesting how different each labor has turned out to be. As a mom, and a doula I would consider C’s labor and delivery “ideal.” Not too fast, not too slow. I was able to relax, and I still had to work to bring him into this world.

He is such a blessing to me, and I recall this day so fondly. Even the scariest and messiest moments. From his birth, I re-learned what it is to be a mother. To be stretched far out of your comfort zone, overcome fear and do whatever is needed for the well-being of your child. I am so thankful he was able to be born safely at home, surrounded by people who love him.

How have your labors differed? Did you have an “I can’t do this moment”? How did you get past it to birth your baby?

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