Maren’s Birth Story
At 4:45am I woke up having mild contractions. In the next 30 minutes I had about 4 and decided it was time to get on Contraction Master and start timing my waves. I timed them until 6 am, at which point they were ranging from every 7 to every 3 minutes. All of the contractions were about 1 minute in length. Mike woke up about 6 am and decided it was time to call Deb, our midwife. She told us to keep doing what we were doing and she’d give us a call back in half an hour to assess how things were moving. I ate some chicken noodle soup, and was able to manage the contractions easily sitting at the table.
It was a nasty day for NC, ice covered the roads and it had been sleeting off and on all night. School was closed and many workplaces were too. I decided to take a shower and see if things would slow down at all. I was in the shower for about half an hour (just long enough to use the hot water up!). I was doing fine thru the contractions as long as I stopped and gave it a bit of concentration while holding the bottom of my belly. Deb called at 6:30am and I talked to her briefly. She decided today was it and started packing her car up. She was on the road and headed in our direction. What was normally an hour long drive would take her about 2.5 hours.
Talia (3yr old daughter) woke up for the day at about 7:30 and was very excited to find out that our baby was going to be born today. She ate breakfast and then helped her Dad decorate the house with our birth art. We had all used paints and pastels in the last several weeks to create some special pieces to put on the walls. I think this helped Talia feel like part f it and to work through some of her feelings about the new baby prior to birth. I really loved what we all came up with and I think it was a special way to celebrate a new life and the birth process.
By 9am it was pretty clear that I would need Talia to be somewhere else so I could give my contractions my full attention. Talia was wonderful though, bringing me water and making sure there was a cloth for my head. At this point I think I was mostly bouncing on the birth ball. Contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and lasting around 1 min to 1 min 15 seconds. I still thought birth was far in the future!
We called the neighbor and she was very happy to have Talia come over to play with her daughter. So I packed up snacks and Mike walked Talia over to their house. Around 10 am the midwife’s assistant, Marin showed up. She took my blood pressure, which was just perfect and then started setting up her supplies. I got Mike to prepare some peanut butter toast for me and I sat at the kitchen table to eat it. About this time I had to stop what I was doing to breathe thru the contractions. I found that hanging my body over the birth ball or a handy table was the easiest way to get thru each contraction. I still wasn’t having any issues with pain management and didn’t expect to be very far along. I was thinking maybe 3 cms and if I was a very lucky girl, maybe 5 cms.
Deb showed up while I was eating my toast at 10:30. She had called us earlier to let us know she was dead stopped because of a wreck, but we assured her she had plenty of time. We decided to have Deb check me for progress and listen to the baby’s heart rate. Baby was doing perfectly wonderful and we heard that little heart galloping away, just like always. She was tolerating the labor very well. Then Deb did the internal exam and she says “My goodness, do you want the good news?” I say “if it’s good, then I want to know”. She says “8 cms”. I say “no way!” She says “yes, way, let’s have a baby”. We were all really excited and hollering about it! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I was almost complete. I was still only breathing thru the contractions and managing them easily.
So Deb and Marin and Mike go about setting up the birth pool. About 11 am I am really starting to feel the contractions. I realize I am probably in transition. I start to moan and vocalize a bit with each contraction. I know I should have started my Hypnobabies techniques earlier in the am, but I just didn’t want to. I had been really lax during the maintenance period, and I think I got to a point with the program where I realized that I didn’t need most of the tools in it. I already had my own very good methods for total relaxation. I did enjoy the affirmations in the program throughout the pregnancy, and I will use those in the future pregnancies. They really helped me keep in the right frame of mind on a daily basis. Anyway, as I hit transition I would hang on the birth ball and repeat a few of the mantras in my mind. Most used was my rugby mantra “I can do anything for one minute” or the variation ‘I can do this one more time, no problem”.
Then I needed help. I called Mike and let him know that counter pressure was now required on my tailbone and he better be sticking with me. About two contractions later I started to feel pushy. I don’t think Mike really believed me, but I had to tell him to tell Deb I was feeling pushy. She came and waited thru the next contraction and then decided the pool was full enough for me to use. She helped me walk from the bedroom to the living room where everything was set up and I got into that blissful hot water. I had hoped to labor in a tub with the water up to my shoulders, but it was full only to about mid belly. We just ran out and there wasn’t any more time to waste. I guess I expected to be immediately soothed, but as it was the pushing contractions were beginning, and it was “painful”. With Talia’s birth, these had been a relief! Not so much this time, they hurt! But I just kept trying to relax and remind myself I could endure absolutely anything. . . as long as I knew it would last only 1 minute.
I asked Deb if she should check me and she declined, saying to go with what I felt. So I began to really push into the contractions. Then I remembered Talia’s last words that she didn’t want to be shipped off and miss the birth, so Mike called the neighbor and had her walk T back over. T got into her bathing suit and sat in the water with me for about one contraction, but decided being close to her roaring mommy was a little much and she opted to be outside the pool holding my drink and washcloth. I pushed maybe 20 minutes (5 or 6 contractions) then started feeling very “I can’t do this”. I asked Deb to break my water. She didn’t really want to, since she could see the bag bulging, she was convinced it would go on it’s own, but I wasn’t feeling good counter pressure from the bag, like I had with the head during talia’s birth and I wanted the water broken. She agreed. It was a few more pushes and then I could feel the head descending.
Deb tried to tell me that I needed to hold my breath a bit and bear down instead of my roars, that I would be very hoarse and wind up with a sore throat. I told her that I understand how it should be done, but I gotta do this my way and I am a roaring animal! I ended up floating on my back (I had been on hands and kness most of the time) and I could feel the ring of fire. I screamed “It is ripping me apart”. Deb says “No, honey, my hands are right here and nothing is going to tear”. She was this perfectly calm voice of reason in the middle of my panic storm! Next contraction there is a head. Then a pause as Deb takes the cord from around the baby’s neck. One more contractions and her whole body came on out. What a feeling. What an amazing thing. You could hear her take her first breath as I picked her up to my chest.
Mike and I moved the cord aside and we could see that we have another girl. But I called T into the water and asked her to check out the baby for us. T snuggled in beside me and looked and announced that we had a girl! She started to pink up right away. Her first APGAR was an 8 and the second was a 10. She had all her precious little parts and even her head was rounded out already. The placenta was born with one little push about 15 minutes later and then we clamped the cord and T got to cut it. We got out of the pool, dried off and went to snuggle down in mom’s big bed.
After a cursory baby exam, the midwives started draining the pool and cleaning the house up. They started laundry and then came in about 30 minutes later to check our new baby thoroughly and weigh her. We decided to name her Maren Clover and she weighed 7 lbs 13 oz, just like her older sister. She was 21 inches long and born right at Noon on 1/11/11.
The story behind her name: My 2 grandmothers are Mary and Helen, so Maren seemed like a nice tribute to both of them. It is an old English name, actually a derivative of Mary. Her middle name is Clover because all during the first/second trimester back in the spring I found 4 leaf clovers everywhere. It was like a little sign from God that after all the pain, and loss, and heartbreak, of my recurrent miscarriages, that this little babe growing inside me was doing just fine and was going to make it. Every time I started to feel down or worried or anxious, I would find another clover. It reminded me to give thanks for the being inside me and to be thankful I was able to have her for this day.
In the end we are so pleased to have chosen a homebirth. For our family it was beautiful and gentle and filled with hope and love. I can’t imagine a better experience for us. Maren is one week old today and has regained her birth weight. She’s feeding like a champ and has been a pretty laid back easy baby so far. We are truly blessed.