Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baby Izzie Born on 9/1/09

Isabel’s Birth

For about ten days before Isabel was born, I was having pre-labor symptoms that would start and stop – Braxton-Hicks contractions, some crampiness, nausea, and a general feeling of all systems being “go.” But labor itself kept not coming! Although I was at only 38.5 weeks, I started getting pretty impatient. When are you coming, baby? On the evening of August 31, I went for a walk and the pre-labor symptoms started up, as usual. This time, though, there seemed to be a little amniotic fluid coming out as well. This got my hopes up that maybe today was “the” day, after all.

Coming home, I began listening to my Hypnobabies (hypnosis for birthing) CDs on my iPod. I’d been listening to these CDs for the past two weeks, training myself to relax during labor and let it happen. The CDs made me feel calm and peaceful, as well as focused on the task at hand. Jacob, in the meantime, was packing the bag I would take to the Birth Center. Everything was going smoothly, until the pre-labor symptoms suddenly stopped – just as they had so many times before. I just sighed, turned off the iPod, and told Jacob it was all off, once again: “This baby will just not make up her mind!” We went to bed, as usual, at 11 pm.

This time, though, things turned out differently. I woke up at 1:20 am certain that I was in labor. Big, fairly intense waves of contractions (“birthing waves,” as my CDs called them) kept coming over me. I got up, sat on the couch in the living room and listened to my CDs some more, observing what was happening in my body. I tried to maintain a peaceful mood, slowly moving around the house in between the contractions, gathering the stuff for the bag that Jacob and I had given up on. Around 2 am, I called Tara. I told her that things were finally happening, and she said she would be right over. In about half an hour, Tara and I were sitting on the couch together. During each contraction, I would just get quiet and close my eyes, breathing deeply and evenly. In between contractions, I was fairly social and chatty. Tara brought me some food and drink. After about an hour of hanging out, Tara suggested that we try to get a bit more rest, since we didn’t know how many more hours lay ahead of us. She lay down on the couch, and I stretched out on my side on the bed in the study, still listening to my CDs, and actually managed to drift off for a little bit. Then the contractions started to become stronger. Lying there I did begin to wonder what kind of intensity the sensations I was experiencing would build up to in the course of the night – and whether I would be able to maintain a peaceful and calm attitude toward them. Would I yet regret the fact I chose not to go the routine epidural route? At that point, I told myself, “This is the race I chose to run, and at this point I will just focus on running it the best I can. I won’t think about what other race it could have been.” With that, I felt like I was ready for things to really start happening: “OK, let’s run the race, then.”

I went to wake up Tara. We called the Birth Center and told Tiffany, the midwife on duty, that we were ready to come. Tiffany later said she was kind of doubtful as to whether it was time to come yet – I had been in labor for only three hours, and my contractions had only just started to be some 5 or 6 minutes apart. But I seemed certain that it was time, so she said OK. Having Tara there made me feel more confident, I think, in my own sense of what was going on, since she was supporting me emotionally and making me feel that she respected my own rhythm of birthing and my way of experiencing it. I went in to the bedroom and told Jacob what was going on. I said we’d call when the birth was imminent so he could come over with Maja.

We got to the Birth Center at 5 am and met Tiffany. The exam Tiffany gave me revealed that I was about 4.5 cm dilated. I settled in at the room in the Birth Center and thing really started to happen. I was no longer talking in between contractions, since the time in between them was getting shorter and shorter. I stood by a tall mantelpiece with my eyes closed, leaning on it with my arms and head during every contraction. I was still listening to my CDs and I was in the zone. During contractions, I swayed my hips gently from side to side. Tara held a hot pack to my lower back, since the contractions were building a lot of pressure there. Then Tara said the birthing tub was full and I could get in if I wanted. I got in.

Once I was in the tub, I was able to relax so completely, that the intensity built very quickly. After about twenty minutes, I was in transition. The contractions in these burning waves now – building, building, building – and they were long. In fact, they never really stopped. After the first one or two, I began to rock from side to side in the tub and to moan during the peaks, as well as let my legs kick out some. This was as much for the benefit of physical release for myself as to communicate to Tara and Tiffany that things were really picking up. The intensity was powerful, but I wasn’t really able to think at this point and consider how I was reacting or how I would handle it. I was just in the middle of it – like standing in a hurricane that was swirling all around me and through me. Then, all of a sudden, I really had to push.

I pushed for one contraction and Tiffany scrambled with her gloves, “Hold on, hold on – turn on your back, so I can catch the baby – OK? Can you hold back?” I just managed to grunt, “No.” “Do you want me to check if you’re fully dilated?” Again, I grunted, “No,” and I puuuushed. I didn’t even feel myself stretching, I just wanted to push so, so much. Tiffany said, “I can see the head – hold on!” But I couldn’t hold on at all. One more push, and a full head of dark hair popped out, followed by a long pinkish-bluish body. Plop – something was on my chest, and people were wrapping blankets around me. Tara took a picture, as I had asked her to. I was pretty stunned – a baby! Tiffany said, “What do we have here? A girl.” Isabel. My dark-haired night baby. I really realized only then that Jacob and Maja, whom Tara had called while I was in transition, did not actually get to make it for the moment of birth – it had happened so fast. It was only 6:45 am, and I had gone from 4.5 cm to pushing in one hour. Jacob and Maja arrived 10 minutes later to greet baby Isabel.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

This Summer was crazy busy...

For the few of you who follow this have seen I haven't posted anything for a few months. Now it is fall and the leaves are changing. It was a very full summer with lots of births and babies. I am adding in pics trying to play catch up. Enjoy:)

Jack was born 6.25.09!

Jack was born on June 25, 2009 at 1:52pm. He weighed 7lbs, 15 oz. He is almost three months old now, and he weighs 14lbs--breastfeeding is amazing! Thanks to Tara for her wonderful support before, during, and after a very difficult delivery that ended in a c-section. We recommend her highly!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A postpartum doula client!

Tara Kenny is a veritable Pied Piper of babies! She showed me tricks for soothing our newborn that worked like a charm. I have no idea how I would have survived the first weeks after my c-section without Tara’s help. By caring for the baby and me, as well as our household, Tara facilitated my early recovery from surgery and gave our family some much-needed space to learn the ropes of parenting a newborn. During those joyful and challenging weeks, I gained a sense of how the world looks from a newborn’s perspective and a deep appreciation of the importance of meeting my own basic needs in order to care for our son. Tara’s sensitivity to the needs of new mothers and babies is truly remarkable. I simply cannot recommend her highly enough!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Welcome Baby Carl!

Carl was born on 3/29/09 at 7:31pm. He weighed 10# 11 oz! Biggest baby yet. Congrats to parents Charlotte and Carl Betterley!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcome home Sean and Cian!

Marla and Fintan are proud to have their twins- Cian and Sean-come home! They were born on 4.20.09. The boys are growing well and adorable. Congrats!

Elijah Marcus Born at home 5.22.09!

Congrats to parents, Carolyn and Ben Marcus, and to sister's Aeden and Naomi! Elijah was born in the comfort of his own home on Friday afternoon. He is a very sweet baby:)

Here is what Carolyn had to say:
Like every birth, Elijah’s birth was a true miracle. It was also a reminder that everyone is unique, as is their entrance into the world. Already being a mother of two and having had wonderful home births with them, I hadn’t given much forethought to how my labor and delivery with this third one would be. I just assumed it would be similar, but just faster. And while that was the case, there were definite differences. I’ve realized that it’s those differences that allow Elijah to have his own birth story.
Because this was my third child, I was pretty confident in my ability to birth a baby. However, as labor progressed into a very difficult stage, I was immediately brought back to that feeling that I had with both my first and second labors – that feeling of complete incapability. In the moment, that feeling was frustrating and even scary. Now, as I look back and reflect, I accept it as an incredibly humbling experience and a very real reminder that, ultimately, despite any physical and mental strength of my own, I am not the one in control.
I will be forever grateful for both of my midwives - Audra and Tara. I feel that being a midwife – and especially a home birth midwife – is a balancing act. It seems that a midwife must balance her belief that birth is a completely natural process with her responsibility of being the medical caregiver of a woman and her child. Both Audra and Tara balanced the roles perfectly. They let me labor in whatever position that my body was up for, and were incredibly encouraging throughout it. However, when it became apparent that little Eli would need some help to enter this world safely, they were quick to help make that happen, while at the same time respecting my body and reassuring my mind. This type of care continued immediately after the birth as they had to focus more on me and my body losing more blood than desired. Looking back, I am amazed at their ability to remain calm in moments that were certainly stressful.
Their amazing care throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery only continues during the post partum period. I have no doubt that they genuinely care for me, my son, and our whole family. It’s that personal care that makes them more than just the people who helped me deliver my child. They were the first people to ensure that Elijah’s first experience of the world was a positive one. And while he was only able to respond to the whole ordeal with some rather deafening screams, I’m pretty sure that one day those screams will become words of gratitude.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Grayden Maxwell born on 4.27.09!

Congrats to parents Melissa and Pete Loeb! Grayden was gently born on 4.27.09 at Newton Wellsley Hospital. He is a very cute little guy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Welcome Ewan Foster Cullivan 3-15-09!

AKA. Baby Fossie

At 4am on Saturday morning I woke up having somewhat regular contractions. I was a few days past my due date and fully expected this to be it. My In-Laws planned to come right away and take the girls out. By the time I had breakfast the contractions had slowed down and I began to suspect we'd be waiting a little longer. Contractions continued on and off all day. The girls spent the night with their grandparents and Lee and I had a nice quiet evening to ourselves.

I spent that whole night and into Sunday morning having contractions every 5-10 minutes and dozing off in between. I had been through this before and was pretty relaxed about it but when things hadn't changed much by morning I began to get a little discouraged. I was tired and didn't know how much longer I could hold on. I had early labor contractions with my first that lasted about 4 days and ultimately ended in a c-section. Even though my second was a home birth and the labor had been completely different I still held onto the memories of that first experience.

Tara and I spoke on the phone a few times and she reminded me that all labors are different. I knew she was right but we really wanted our baby!

I spent Sunday having contractions and tried to rest as much as possible. I knew that I would need the energy. I didn't really try to encourage labor. That might sound weird but looking back I think I was right to follow my instincts. I knew that if I was really in labor I couldn't slow it down but if my body was still just preparing then I should take advantage of the opportunity to rest.

The only slightly crazy thing I did (in hindsight of course) was take a trip to Whole Foods with Lee! We needed some groceries and I wanted to get out for a bit. I had to have him pull over for a few contractions and waddling around the supermarket wasn't very comfortable but I think it may have convinced me that labor was imminent. Or did it?

I guess after all those early labor contractions I still questioned whether or not I was really in labor. By late afternoon my In-Laws had left and my parents had arrived. I continued having contractions and resting. At around 6pm the contractions were stronger and I found myself unable to sit still. Everyone was eating dinner but I was feeling queasy. I walked around the apartment and leaned on a windowsill during each contraction.

During the next 45 minutes the contractions we even stronger and coming every 2-3 minutes. Still not convinced this was it...but had Lee start getting the tub ready just in case. I waited a few more minutes before calling Tara. She said she'd make her way over within an hour. I hung up the phone and with the next contraction my water broke. I called her back right away and she said she was on the way.

I was very excited that my water broke. Now I knew this birth was really going to happen and soon! My parents started getting the girls ready to go with them. With all the activity in the apartment my bathroom felt like the most comfortable place to be and I spent the next hour or so having very strong contractions in there. First standing in the shower holding the curtain rod (it was sturdy!)...learned that position from Ina May and it was a good one!

Then I moved onto all fours and leaned over a birth ball on the floor. The contractions were so strong. Lee was setting up the tub and sat with me when he could. Tara and Audra had arrived by then and were setting up and coming to see me as well. They reminded me to breathe during the contractions and just let them happen. My body's instinct was to fight the contraction and I had to work at relaxing and letting the contraction do what it needed to do. The short breaks in between were such a tremendous relief and allowed me to prepare for the next one.

With one of the contractions I suddenly felt like I was pushing and I really wanted to be in the tub. It was still not at the ideal temperature but we decided I could still get in. I couldn't believe I was already pushing. I was really so happy this was finally happening and my physical reactions to the pain were not in my control. I really trusted my body to do what it needed to do and it needed to yell!

The room was dimly lit and I felt totally safe and calm. When his head was finally out we waited for another contraction so I could push out the body. I tried to push without one but I couldn't. Audra told me to get on my hands and knees and push...he was a big boy and was maybe a little stuck. Tara and Audra were timing how long his head had been out but everyone was still calm and I never worried. I knew he would be out soon. And with the next contraction I was able to give one last push and he was here. They said, "pick up your baby!"

I scooped him right up...he was slippery and gorgeous and it was all over. 8:39pm. Overall a very quick labor!

I love all three of my birth stories because each has been so different and empowering in its own way. While we are 99.9% sure we won't have a fourth baby I know when the time comes it will be hard to decide if 3 is really "it." Each child, pregnancy and birth affects you in so many ways it's hard to say you're every really done!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Baby Ndoga Born at Home on 3.15.09

Here is what Ina had to say about her experience:

During my third pregnancy my previous dream of having a home birth was nagging on me more and more as my due date came closer. My previous children were born naturally and unmedicated in an outpatient setting back in Germany. I liked to be able to go home a couple of hours after the births to recover in my own bed. But having to drive to the hospital during my short labors and being in an unfamiliar setting during the births really bothered me a lot.

I started talking with my boyfriend Cesar about the possibility of a home birth, especially in a for both of us foreign country (he is from Congo) with all the terrible stories of interventions, c-sections and being pushed into something I would not want for myself and our baby. I believe a baby should be born at home were it is conceived. I also very strongly believe, that a woman's body is totally capable and made for receiving, growing and birthing babies without intervention.

Cesar was very skeptical about the idea. He believes in natural childbirth, but he also thought a hospital setting would be the safest place to deliver his first baby. We decided on a birth center as a compromise but I still kept working on changing his mind. When we finally met Tara, at week 32, she explained with confidence what will happen during and after the birth, about her training and about statistical outcomes of home births. Cesar felt secure enough to commit to a home birth. I am so thankful for Tara's influence on his decision.

The birth itself was fast and smooth. Tara and Ann are both great midwives and have the right mix of humor, focus and encouragement during and after the birth. They both managed to give Cesar tasks to calm him down (there were times were he questioned his decision) and they gave me the space and support I needed. After Ndoga was born the joy and peaceful atmosphere was a great experience compared to my previous births. And my son, Gino, was involved cuddling and checking out his new baby brother right away.

Cesar and I felt safe and comfortable at any time during my pregnancy, the birth and postpartum and Tara is a great resource for all the questions Cesar had as a new father. She is also very sensitive to cultural differences and open minded for different views on things.

Thanks Tara (and Ann) for sharing this important time for us as a new family ;-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rowan Born on 9.12.08

One of the most positive c-section births I have attended. Baby Rowan wanted to stick to being in a footling breech position so instead of a home birth we went to the hospital.

Here are some sweet words that my midwifery clients wrote: We are so glad that Tara was part of our birth experience. We worked with Tara to prepare for a home birth but as our due date approached with our son in a footling breech position, Tara helped us accept the reality that our baby would be born in a hospital. Tara seamlessly transitioned to providing doula services for us, and gave us the continuity, support and advocacy we needed in the hospital setting. Tara's prenatal care is top notch. Our choice to have a homebirth was met with some skepticism from family, but meeting Tara and attending a prenatal visit erased their worries. Tara is extremely knowledgeable and capable, and more importantly, supported our informed decisions. Pregnancy was a beautiful, empowering time for me, and though we didn't have the birth that we had planned and hoped for, it was exactly what we needed it to be. –GD

Oona Pearl born on 2.26.09

Baby Oona was born at home to parents, Danielle and Brendan. This was by far the fastest labors of all-1 1/2 hours long. She is a sweet, strong & mellow baby. Congratulations to big sister Rosa!

Baby Amelie's Birth 2.12.09

Proud parent's Brenda and Paul welcomed their baby girl-Amelie just before Valentine's day. Brenda did an amazing job laboring. I thought that the baby might have been born on the way to the hospital! Good thing I know how to deliver them.

Many baby's born in Senegal 11.08-12.08

I decided that I needed to get out of the country and learn about birth in Senegal for three weeks. I went with a group called "The African Birth Collective." Their website is Here are some pic's from that amazing trip!

Baby Llewyn Born on 10.3.08!

Jessie Groneman and Andy Toomajian welcome sweet baby Llewyn to their family. He was 10 # 4oz. and born in the water. It was a very sweet home birth. A joy for me to attend one of my dearest close friends birth:)

Baby Ruby was born at home on 8.2.08!

Congratulations to Lissa Harris for giving birth to Ruby! She did a fantastic job and had a beautiful water birth during an intense rain storm in the comfort of her own home.