Monday, February 7, 2011

Congrats to Kerry and her family! A beautiful homebirth on 1.8.11

Kerry's oldest daughter cut the cord

                                         My Amazing Homebirth
For my previous two births, I prided myself in choosing an OB affiliated with a large Boston teaching hospital.  And when there were placental complications (one major) during both deliveries, I was convinced at how “lucky” I was to be in that large teaching hospital with that experienced OB. 
It wasn’t until I was entering the third trimester of my third pregnancy that I came to my senses and realized that the complications I experienced in my previous deliveries were a direct result of the unnecessary inductions and medical interventions of OB-orchestrated, medicalized births.  After much researching and soul-searching, I realized that my body could birth a baby without incident if I just let nature do what it was meant to do. 
I was very lucky to meet Audra Karp randomly at a toddler playgroup prior to my “epiphany” about the potential dangers of medicalized, hospital births.  As the weeks passed into my third trimester and I finally arrived at my decision for a natural homebirth, I was thrilled to have Audra as my midwife.  Her knowledge, reassurance and calm demeanor were the key qualities that led to my amazing homebirth. 
At 41 weeks, I happily went into labor on my own and my contractions quickly progressed from 10 minutes to 3 minutes apart.  Audra, her student midwife, Catherine, and Audra’s partner midwife, Tara Kenny, arrived in the middle of the night and prepared their supplies while I labored in my living room.  The early part of labor was much more tolerable than I anticipated.  Having had two prior inductions with early epidurals, I was apprehensive about what real labor would feel like.  Fortunately, it was nothing like Pitocin contractions and it was so nice to be able to walk freely through my home and labor as I needed to.  As the contractions grew stronger, I gravitated more toward the bedroom where the midwives were located.  I had no desire or need for a shower or bath but as the labor intensified and I got close to pushing, I was thrilled to use Audra’s birthing stool. 
Prior to labor, I was worried that I would lose control at some point in the labor and think “this was a mistake,” or “I need an epidural,” or “I can’t do this.”  Fortunately, that never happened for me.  I feel like during the most intense part of labor, I went into the natural labor “zone” where it’s easier to block out external stimuli.  It was just as intense as I thought it would be, but I never felt like it was more than I could handle.  Audra and her partners were unbelievably supportive.   They provided constant care and attention—at my request—and reassured me when contractions were most intense with calm statements, like: “That’s just your baby,” and “You’re fine, your baby’s fine, you’re doing great.” 
At labor’s peak, I remember thinking, “someone please help me!” And when it became clear to me that I was the only one who could help me, I pushed the baby out!  I had a slight hemorrhage after the baby was born, which Audra quickly stopped with a Pitocin injection.  The placenta was ready to be delivered, but I think given my previous hospital-birth baggage, I subconsciously couldn’t push it out until after awhile Audra reassured me that the placenta was detached and everything was fine.  When I ultimately pushed the placenta out, I sobbed and sobbed, filled with such relief that all was fine, anger over my previous births, and joy at my amazing, perfect homebirth.
I truly wish I had known in my earlier pregnancies what I learned in my third: that homebirths are safe, beautiful, empowering and truly the way that nature intended for babies to be born.  Thank you Audra, Tara and Catherine!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Welcome Galen Nathaniel! A beautiful homebirth in the blizzard on 1.11.11!

My first son was born at exactly 37 weeks, and so my husband and I were prepared (and we somewhat expected) to have this baby early too. But 37 weeks and then 38 weeks came and went with no sign of labor. I was frustrated and confused since I had not imagined myself still being pregnant in January! Finally on Friday January 7th I lost a big chunk of mucus plug. "This is it!" I thought surely labor would come soon. Then on Saturday evening came the bloody show, and what I "thought" was my water breaking. But no, it was just more mucus. I was having irregular cramping sensations, but there was no pattern. For two days I experienced escalating contractions in the evening, but they would always fizzle-out overnight. In the morning I awoke frustrated and impatient. Where was this baby?

When I talked to Tara each day, she assured me that although I was not in active labor, my body was still doing essential work preparing for birth. I tried to see each day as progress even though I felt stalled and anxious.

As my husband Chris and I looked at the weather forecast, which predicted a big blizzard in the wee-hours of Wednesday morning, we joked; surely this stubborn baby would arrive smack in the middle of a blizzard!? Sure enough, on Tuesday afternoon my pesky, irregular contractions seemed to be getting stronger, although they were still sporadic. I talked for a long time with a friend on the phone and she helped me to relax and stop worrying about when "real" labor would start. Later in the evening, after putting my son to bed around 7pm, I was getting pretty uncomfortable. I decided to take a shower to see if I could relax enough to sleep. Once in the shower, the contractions intensified significantly, so much so that I was having to moan through them. Once out of the shower, I told Chris to call Tara and our doula Evelyn.

While waiting for Evelyn, I found the most comfort kneeling on our couch and flinging my torso over the back so my head and arms could just dangle over the edge. When Evelyn arrived, we sat on the couch talking in between contractions, and I would simply throw myself over the couch with each oncoming pain. Chris was busy upstairs in our bedroom setting up the birth tub and filling it with water. Finally it was full enough that I could go upstairs and get in.

Once upstairs the contractions definitely kicked up a notch. I laid on the bed moaning through each one while Evelyn and Chris tried to get the temperature in the tub a little bit warmer. Tara and Audra arrived at this point. It was close to 10:00pm. At this point, I lost track of time, and my recollection of events becomes blurred. At one point I remember someone telling me that my moans sounded a little bit "pushy." Really? It didn't feel that way, though the sensations were intense. And I was shivering cold. Finally the tub was ready and I got in.

This is when my labor became like a freight train and I was just a passenger along for the ride. Contractions came one on top of the other, and with each one I felt a bit more grunty, a bit more pushy. Finally my body started doing its own thing. I did not feel an "urge to push" so much as bearing witness to my body's pushing and being powerless to stop it. Unlike with the birth of my first son - where I was told when and how to push - this experience was otherworldly. My body was on autopilot. I could feel my tissues expanding and stretching and had trouble integrating all the sensations because it was all happening so fast! Finally I reached down to feel a giant bulge and the smallest bit of head starting to crown. (All this time I was probably screaming and howling, but miraculously my toddler didn't make a peep on the baby monitor.) Then I was kneeling in the tub and reached down to exclaim that the head was OUT! I vaguely remember asking Tara "now what??" I tried to push with the next couple of contractions but not much progress was made. Tara and Audra had me flip over so Tara could assist with the shoulders. I remember starting to panic, but then Audra told me to focus all my energy downward and OUT. Then with that next push, out came our baby!

He was up on my chest, and it was complete euphoria. Not only was I no longer in any kind of pain, but we had a baby, finally! I wasn't even thinking about gender, but Chris looked and told me we had another boy. I was mesmerized as our baby boy made eye contact with me. I looked at him all over and noticed that he had a dimple on his cheek. Unlike my hospital birth, no one scooped him out of my arms, no one put goopy ointment in his eyes or wrapped him in a million blankets. It was just before midnight, the snow was just starting to fall outside, and our baby boy had the coolest birthday ever: 1/11/11