On Monday, February 3rd I was crampy and restless all night. I was up and down a lot and then around 5:00 I started having contractions. I thought it was quite possible that this was real labor as they were fairly strong, though not all that hard to get through yet. Since Kaylee’s labor had been so fast, I wanted to make sure we did get a chance to get my antibiotics in because I had tested positive for Group B Strep again. We decided Matt should stay home from work and we called the midwives around 8:00. Jan and Tina were on call. Jan said to get into the tub and see what happened and to call our doula friend Lynda who would be taking pictures. If Lynda arrived before Jan did, she would be able to check me and get the IV started as well. Matt started a fire in the fireplace and then got the kids ready to head off to Grandma and Grandpa Dollar’s house for the day.
When Lynda arrived I asked her to check me before we decided if we wanted to start the antibiotics. Her evaluation was that I was at -1 station, 100% effaced and 2-3 cm dilated. We were deciding what to do about the IV when Jan arrived. At that point we decided that we would go ahead and do the first bag of fluids and antibiotics. We had a really hard time getting the IV going. Lynda would get it in and all hooked up and then the drip would stop. It took 3 tries to get started. I hate needles with a passion so sitting through all this was pretty hard for me. I had Matt take Kaylee away to get her changed. Keithen was big and brave and stood by me to try to make me feel better. Finally we got the antibiotics hooked up and running in. After a bit they did make me sick and I threw up. Shortly after all the IV torture was over, Grandpa Dollar showed up to take Keithen and Kaylee over to his house for the day.
I really expected things to start to pick up once the kids were out of the way. That was what had happened when I was in labor with Kaylee…as soon as Matt took Keithen out of the house my contractions with her became really hard. This time there wasn’t much change. We tried different positions to labor in and taking a walk around the neighborhood and such but things weren’t picking up…they actually began to die out, getting weaker and farther apart.
Jan and Lynda decided to run and errand and leave us alone for a bit while I tried to rest since I hadn’t had much sleep the night before. When they returned about an hour and a half later we decided that this wasn’t going to turn into anything. Jan gave me some herbs to help me relax and told us to call if we needed anything. I cried from frustration because I really thought we were going to have a baby that day. Once everyone was gone, I took a nice long nap before Grandpa brought the kids home.
On both Wednesday and Friday the kids and I went out and did some shopping and walking around for a couple of hours. I was hoping to bring the baby down further to put some more pressure on my cervix. Friday morning we also went to our Attachment Parenting group and a couple of my friends tried to talk the baby into coming out. When the kids and I went to the grocery afterwards I enjoyed telling people who asked when I was due, “Oh, tomorrow.” That got some interesting looks! Friday night my lower back and hips were really sore and I was having more pelvic pressure. I tried to check my own cervix and guessed that I was probably 3-4 cm and 100% effaced.
Our due date arrived. Saturday morning, February 8th, Matt was supposed to go to his IATSE class, which was to start at 9:00 a.m. At 8:05 I started timing contractions, which were coming every 5-7 minutes and were much harder than they had been at any other time in the week. It felt a lot like early labor with Kaylee, with good breaks in between contractions but hard contractions when they came and lots of pelvic pressure if I was upright. By about 8:20 I told Matt that I really didn’t know how I felt about him leaving me alone.
We called the midwives and found out that Sandy and Andrea were on call. We paged Sandy and she called us back. We decided that for right now we were just giving her a “heads up” and that we’d call back in just a bit when we saw how things were going. It didn’t take me much longer to decide that I needed my support team there. Even in the birthing tub the contractions were very strong and were requiring my focus and a lot of work to breathe through. We called Sandy back and she decided to send Andrea over. We called Lynda to give her a head’s up and agreed that we would call her back after Andrea arrived and checked me.
Keithen and Kaylee were disappointed that they weren’t going to be allowed to get in the tub with me to swim. Keithen wanted to know why I didn’t have a swimsuit on since I had worn one in the tub with them before. I told him that I was listening to the baby to see if it was ready to come out. Kaylee seemed to think that maybe we weren’t letting her in the tub because the water might be too hot, so she was blowing on the water saying “Hot! Hot!” At some point while I was in the tub I tried to eat a banana and ended up throwing it up pretty quickly. The kids alternated between being concerned, fascinated and grossed out by Mommy puking.
Matt had called Grandpa Dollar to come get the kids and pretty soon they were on their way for a day long playdate at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. This time there would be cousins there and Valentines.
Shortly after the kids were gone, I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom and then Andrea arrived. She told us about her morning so far. She and her husband were both on call this weekend. They woke up and made a fire in their fireplace and cuddled in front of it having coffee. Andrea said she told her hubby that she wanted to attend a nice homebirth this weekend but she had some stipulations. She said she didn’t want it to be a first time mom, but instead someone who knew what they were doing and she wanted it to be in the daytime so she could get her rest at night. She said that when Sandy called to tell her I was in labor she was so excited that she was going to get her wish and “I just love Carissa and Matt so much anyway so I was so excited!” She also commented on the fact that only 1 in 10 babies comes on it’s due date. We thought it was an odd coincidence that our third child seemed to have picked the due date to make an appearance since Matt’s brother’s third child had been born on his due date too.
I asked her to check me and see what was going on before we started the IV again. The baby’s heartrate was in the 140’s. Andrea checked me and her assessment was that I was about 80% effaced and 7 cm, on the verge of transition! I told Matt to call Lynda right away so she could get here to take pictures. Sandy was also called and told to come over too. Andrea got the IV going without all the needle torture this time. We also used a smaller bag of fluids so it would run in faster. Thankfully no nausea this time around!
Matt built another fire in the fireplace and I ended up camping out with the birth ball in front of the fire for most of my labor. I made him take a picture of me standing in front of the fireplace with the clock on the mantle…40 weeks pregnant and in labor! Lynda arrived soon after that and began to document the rest of the labor and birth by taking pictures for us. She also acted as a wonderful doula for me. She could tell if I was holding tension somewhere in my body from the next room. I remember hearing her voice coming from across the living room at the kitchen sink telling me to relax my forehead. She could touch me or whisper something and I could release it pretty easily. She was also great about making sure I always had something to drink nearby.
The warmth of the fire felt nice on my naked body. I knelt leaning into the birth ball, sat on it or sat in front of it and used it to lean my head into during contractions. Matt sat nearby in the floor and held my hand part of the time. Lynda and Andrea took turns doing some counter pressure and massage on my lower back. I made frequent trips to the bathroom, trying to keep my bladder and bowels empty to let baby have more room to move down.
At one point I felt that the pelvic pressure was getting stronger and the contractions were starting to feel more like pushing contractions, not quite there yet but a definite change in sensations. I asked Andrea to check me again and we discovered that I was 8 cm. Every time we checked the baby with the Doppler the heart rate was in the 140’s and baby was handling labor well. We joked that the baby wasn’t going to give us any hint if it was a boy or girl until the birth.
Everyone continued chatting and listening to music. We all talked about our weddings, honeymoons and the births of our children. Matt and Lynda were great about offering me drinks between contractions. Lynda even whipped up a yummy strawberry banana smoothie for me because Sandy really wanted me to get something else in my stomach. As the contractions became stronger I got quieter and didn’t participate in the conversation as much. I began to have to switch from breathing through the contractions to vocalizing and moaning through them. After a final trip to the bathroom I decided it was time to move to the birthing tub.
I spent a little time in the tub on my own with everyone else gathered around in the kitchen. Andrea and Sandy had all their equipment nearby on the kitchen table in case it was needed. The contractions were a bit easier in the warm water. I decided that it wouldn’t be long before things got really serious and we were ready to have a baby, so I told Matt he had better get down to his trunks if he was planning on getting in the tub with me. He joined me in the tub shortly after that and sat behind me so I could either sit between his legs or use his hands on either side of me to squat.
I think everyone knew that I was getting really close when Sting’s “We’ll Be Together Tonight” came on the CD player. I was alternating between laughing and crying through the whole song at the thought of how true it was and how close we were to meeting our sweet baby. I remember Andrea telling me to laugh that baby out.
Sandy had been knitting a scarf throughout my labor. When I was starting to push I remember her saying that she had been betting she would get to the end of the row she was on before I was ready. She was 6 stitches away from finishing it when I began pushing against my bulging bag of water. The midwives suggested that we go ahead and switch positions so Matt would be ready to catch the baby. He moved around in front of me in the tub and Andrea put her arms around me from outside the tub so I could squat and use her for support. I had been having some tingling in my hands and arms and it moved up into my face…pins and needles kind of feelings. It was really getting annoying. Sandy suggested that I try breathing into my hands and that helped get it to go away.
Soon after that a big push caused the bag of water to break in a big explosion. I think I remember Andrea saying, “You did it! You wanted to break your bag on your own and you did!” Sandy did a quick check of the baby’s heart rate with the water Doppler. With the cushion of the bag gone, there was intense pressure and burning and baby’s head was very quickly born into Daddy’s waiting hands. Sandy quickly checked to make sure that the cord was not around the baby’s neck.
Matt reminded me to touch the head. I reach down with both my hands and held the baby’s head in my hands. There is something amazing about feeling that little head as the baby is half-way out of your body that helps overcome the intense pain of the moment and can help you focus yourself on getting that baby the rest of the way out. I actually felt the baby rotate inside me at that point for the shoulders to come out…the last time I would feel a baby move inside my belly. One last push and Matt caught our child and brought the baby up to my chest.
I began rubbing the baby’s back as the midwives were checking the baby out in my arms. After a few seconds Matt announced that we had another baby girl. Everyone agreed that she had been born at 2:17 p.m. We named her Ruby and told her happy birthday, welcoming her to the world after her long journey.
Everyone was amazed at how much thick, white vernix she had for a baby born on her due date. Matt and I were convinced that she had to be bigger than both Keithen and Kaylee. She just looked so round! Lynda remarked that her cheeks probably weighed 4 oz each!
We got a warm towel out of the oven to put over her head and wrap her up in the water. At one point we noticed a burning smell and one of the baby hats had fallen into the bottom of the oven and we had to turn on the noisy kitchen fan to get rid of the smell.
I tried to get Ruby positioned to nurse but the cord was kind of short and I was having some trouble keeping her face out of the water. Someone suggested Matt reposition himself so I could sit in his lap to nurse her and that worked well. Before she was even a half hour old she nursed with the cord still attached and pulsating. Andrea and Sandy wanted to be sure that Lynda got a good picture of that for some of the doctors they work with to see!
Matt and Sandy checked the cord several times and when it finally stopped pulsing Andrea and I held Ruby out in the water for Matt to cut the cord. After that Andrea held her in the water just by her head and let her unwind her body in the water. It was amazing to see how she floated in the water and get an idea how she had moved around inside of me.
We decided that the water was getting too cool for Ruby and that the placenta was probably coming soon. Matt got out and put on some dry pants and a robe then took her with a warm blanket to sit in front of the fire. After a few more minutes I birthed the placenta in the tub. When I tried to get out of the tub I felt a little light headed and had to sit back down. Andrea and Sandy got me another glass of Gatorade and some Swiss cheese to eat. I felt better after that and was able to get out. Sandy helped me get dried off and over to the couch to sit down. She checked out my bottom and my perineum was intact, not even a skid mark. She pronounced Matt an honorary midwife. I made a trip to the bathroom while the midwives unfolded our couch into a bed for me to rest. Matt brought Ruby back to me and she nursed again while he made me some turkey bacon sandwiches to eat.
Before Andrea left she told me that she was so proud of me. She said that she only attends a birth like this where you can hardly tell the mom is in labor until the last 10 minutes once every 5 years or so.
Sandy weighed and measured Ruby. She was 8 lbs 0 oz and 19 ¾” long. She did weigh more than both Keithen and Kaylee had at birth, but was over an inch shorter than Keithen which is probably what made us think she looked so very round. Sandy made sure we knew what kind of things to watch for post-partum and told us Andrea would be calling us on Sunday and that she’d be back herself on Tuesday to check on us.
Matt, Ruby and I cuddled up on the bed in front of the fireplace and relaxed. We talked about how it was so wonderful to not have to hurry up to leave the house and go somewhere in labor and even better to just be able to relax after it was over and not have to pack up and leave for home. It was so nice to have some quiet time with just the three of us to snuggle and rest before we even called anyone.
After we had a few hours to rest, Grandpa Dollar brought Keithen and Kaylee home to meet their new sister. Kaylee was up on the bed with me right away without even taking her coat and shoes off. She took one look at Ruby, patted her and said, “I like baby! Baby hide Mommy’s tummy!” She knew exactly where that sweet baby had come from. Keithen took the time to take off his coat and shoes and then climbed up and asked if he could hold her. Keithen and Kaylee sat together and held Ruby and looked her over. They were very obviously both quite smitten with their new sister. We all are, after all she’s quite beautiful and perfect in every way!
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I am still sad I did not have the homebirth I envisioned (had to be induced at 43 weeks - no amount of alternatives got that baby out and the midwives legally had to hand me over to the "authorities" - ha ha). Anyway, stories like yours keep me hopeful of what wonderful work we can do at home. Thank you.
oh, and welcome Ruby! What a great name!!
We're planning our first homebirth with THE SAME MIDWIVES!!!!!!!!!!! I'm due in about a month, and I'm hoping that our birth will go as wonderful as yours. I just love everyone of them, and we're going to ask Lynda to photograph our birth also.
It's so great to see your story before I give birth, I knew they were awesome midwives!
Congrads to your family and new little Ruby (great name!)
My partner and I are expecting our first REALLY soon - we are doing a natural, at-home birth with a team of midwives. We have not found out the gender of the child yet, either, and we are also planning on having the water birth.
One thing I wanted to ask you, though... I have a friend that is birthing her second child. She tested positive for Group B Strep, and was told by a doctor that she could KILL her child by risking an at-home birth. Her doctor told her that she had not option other than a hospitle birth (eleminating the option for even a "birthing room" or medical midwife center) Your story was such a success - and now I am questioning the facts, I guess. It saddened me to know that my friend (who is just a tad over 6 mos now) was going to have her options taken away and not be able to have the birthing experience that she wished for. If you could give me more info on the dangers (and the myths) of a birth being Group B Strep +, I would be so grateful.
Again, congradulations! Blessings! And, wow!
I can understand your friend's concern (I know a woman who was not informed of the group B strep test at all so did not have it and was positive for it and the baby died a day or two after birth). But what I understand is this - you can still have an out of hospital birth. You just have an IV with antibiotics in it during labor. You don't have to be in a hospital to have an IV. Why couldn't your friend have a birth center or home birth and get her antibiotic IV from the midwife? I would look further into that if I were your friend.
I have tested both previous pregnancies for group B and came up negative. I will test again for this (#3) pregnancy. But my midwife (we are planning a homebirth - preg1 was in hospital, preg2 in a birth center) told me no worries even if I did come up positive as we would just do the antibiotic IV and continue on with plan.
I am sure others know more factual info and/or links for you but this is my understanding.