Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Confessions of a Mama who Birthed Unassisted

© Erin Powell Davey 2011. Erin shares her story, reminding us that each birth and baby is different. She also shares the surprise of an unintended unassisted birth!

After Camryn arrived at 37 weeks, I was paranoid with this pregnancy, worried that I was going to go into labor before I was ‘homebirth legal’ at 37 weeks.  Beyond that paranoia, I was pretty much sure that I was going to go into labor around the same time….in the 37th week.  Maybe 38 weeks.  I could hardly even believe I made it to my 38-week midwife appointment.  When I was leaving, we didn’t even make a 39-week appointment, figuring I would give birth before then. Then we had to make a last minute 39-week appointment!  I had my appointment on Thursday, October 21.  I joked that with the full moon coming, and the Scorpio sign looming on the horizon, I surely have this baby soon.  My midwife said something about my face looking different and guessed I would have the baby in the next few days.  I thought she was joking.  We did make a 40-week appointment but turns out I didn’t need it!

On that Thursday night, I went out for a mom’s night with some friends.  It was around 7 PM and I couldn’t stop yawning.  I was feeling way more tired than I should have been!  When I got home around 8:30, I couldn’t wait to get Camryn to bed so I could go to bed, too!  Of course she took extra long to fall asleep that night and I wasn’t able to get into bed until around 11:45.  Even though I was very tired, I figured it was a good time to listen to one of my Hypnobabies tracks since my husband was doing some work in another room.  The tracks ALWAYS put me to sleep so I figured I would sleep extra well.  But oddly I was lying there listening to the Hypnobabies and thinking, why am I not asleep yet?!  I am tired!  Well, shortly after that I must have fallen asleep because I never got to the end of the track.

Around 1:40 AM on Friday, my husband was coming to bed and as I heard him, I moved a little bit in the bed and thought I felt wet, as if I was lying in a puddle.  I was afraid to move more so I asked him, “Am I wet, is the bed wet?” and he felt it and said yes.  I said, “I don’t think I peed myself so I’m guessing my water broke!”  He immediately ‘ran’ into the bathroom and started hooking up the hose to fill the tub.  I said, “Slow down, wait a minute, and get me a washcloth so I can get up!”  So he brought me one and I ran to the bathroom trying not to drip on the floor.  A flood of water gushed out then and would continue to do so for the rest of the morning.  Normally while I was sitting it was fine but when I would lie down in bed, it was like a cork was pulled and I would leak a bunch more fluid so I’m guessing he was not even fully engaged at that point.

At 1:50 AM, I called our midwife to let her know that my water had broken but nothing else was happening at the time.  When my water broke with Camryn, it was 14 hours before my contractions started so I wasn’t sure how long it would be before things really started but I wanted her to be aware. We did a few of the last minute things we had to do like set up the crockpot and set up some of the birth supplies.  It was around 3 AM that I started feeling contractions but they were mild—about 20-30 seconds long every 7-10 minutes.  I gave my husband a few more things to do and figured I should try to get some rest.  So I put on one of my Hypnobabies tracks and laid down to rest.  I was never able to get to sleep but it was nice to relax, not knowing for sure how much work would be ahead of me.  Shortly after that track ended, Camryn woke up wanting to nurse. 

Normally she would nurse and fall back asleep but since there were lights on with ‘action’ happening she woke up more than normal.  She was ready to play!  We sat around in the bed for a little while and then decided to call my mom and grandma to let them know that ‘Munchie’ would be arriving soon.  I decided that I was starting to get hungry and it was only going to get worse so I had some apples and cheese with Camryn.  I know that this was around 4-5 AM and after this I kind of lost track of the timing of everything.

Camryn asked to nurse again and fell asleep in our bed, I think around 6 or 6:30.  I rested in the bed for a little while longer, having contractions lasting about 30-45 seconds every 6 or 7 minutes.  I got up to go to the bathroom a few times and every time I sat on the toilet, I would immediately get a long contraction, no matter how long it had been since the last one.  I would also get another short one when I would stand up and then would have to lean on the sink to get through that one.  They weren’t horribly awful, but very annoying and made me want to avoid the bathroom! 

The whole time I was having contractions, I was trying to use the Hypbobabies, telling myself during contractions, “open, open, open” and ‘Peace.”  And I was trying to keep my jaw and hands loose and open. At 7:50 I decided I wanted to get into the pool.  It was still filling but was almost full and it felt so good.

I was debating when I should call our midwife.  I didn’t want her to be sitting around ‘watching’ me for 4 hours, but I also didn’t want her to have to race over, sans shoes, like she did with Camryn’s birth!  With that birth, I was told she would head over when I had contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting a minute, for an hour but at that point last time, I started uncontrollably pushing. 

I wanted to give her a little more time this time.  So after I had 3 or 4 contractions lasting around a minute (a few were a little shorter), I figured I’d better call.  I called at 8:10 and told her what was happening.  She asked what my pain level was and I said 6, 7, maybe 8.  I was afraid I was being a wimp calling the pain an 8, not remembering how bad it could get, but she said if it was an 8, she would start heading over at a ‘normal’ pace.  Turns out I’m glad I called it an 8.

A few minutes after we hung up, they started getting a little worse.  I was feeling just a tad nauseous.  Not quite ‘get me the bucket’ sick but just a little icky.  I had a few contractions 4-5 minutes apart lasting a minute to a minute and a half.  And then they jumped to every 2-3 minutes.  At that point I knew I was I transition.  I was thinking of a line I read in a book saying most women only have 6-10 transition contractions.  I just kept telling myself that.  That I would only have a few more of those to get through.  I was continuing to think “open” and “peace” and would hold my mouth very open, all the while picturing my cervix opening just as big.  I think I was in denial that this was going to go super fast like Camryn’s birth.


My husband had taken Camryn downstairs to get her some breakfast and turned on the TV, which ended up working out wonderfully.  I think it was around 8:30-8:40 he came back upstairs and was going to make up the bed with plastic and do a few other things.  And then I got one of those slight pushy contractions.  He asked if he should bring Camryn up and put her show on and suddenly I said, “No, leave her there, forget the bed, you need to call Jessica (our midwife) now!”  I knew she was probably getting close but she needed to hurry now! 

I got another pushy contraction and could feel the baby’s head coming down.  It did not feel anything like what I expected. (With Camryn’s birth, when I had that first pushy contraction, I felt what felt like a little wrinkly walnut and that was it…our midwife showed up soon after that and I didn’t feel anymore.)  This felt ‘big’ and bumpy…like a head of cauliflower…well not quite that big but definitely not a little walnut!  Garry was telling Jessica that I was pushing and the head was still coming down very quickly.  She asked if he could see the head and I think he said no and asked if I could feel it and I yelled, “YESSSSSSS!”  She ended up being just a few streets away and would arrive soon.  After they hung up, I think that’s when he asked if I wanted him to get Camryn.  I didn’t think he even had time to get down and back up the stairs so I asked him to take a few quick pictures and then he jumped in the pool to catch our baby.

Pushing went SO fast.  It was 9 minutes from the first ‘urge’ until he was out.  I did not even attempt to listen to the pushing track of my Hypnobabies CDs.  My babies don’t seem to want to be ‘breathed out.’  They come out like a roaring freight train and all I can do is hang on for the ride.  I felt a strong urge this time to try to ‘slowly’ guide his head out (I guess ‘slowly’ is relative).  My husband asked if I was holding him in but really I was just trying to protect myself from what felt like might be a huge tear.  I had no ‘ring of fire’ with Camryn but I definitely did this time. 

I just sort of cupped what was still feeling like a huge bumpy blob with my hand as it descended.  His head went from just reachable to all the way out within about 4 minutes.  After it was out, there was an odd period of a minute or two where nothing was happening.  I had no contractions, no urge to push or anything. Perhaps he was rotating.  I remembered to check for a cord this time and didn’t feel anything.  Then just that suddenly, I said, “here it comes” and the rest of his body was born into my husband’s hands at 8:56 AM. 

He lifted him onto my chest and of course he was beautiful!  I couldn’t tell if he was breathing as he didn’t cry but I wasn’t overly concerned.  He was, of course still getting oxygen from the cord and was looking around. He wasn’t gray, but he just wasn’t pink.  And he was COVERED in vernix.  I couldn’t believe how much vernix he had for barely being early.  I was talking to him and rubbing his back, trying to stimulate a little cry but still knowing our midwife would be there within a minute or so, I wasn’t overly concerned.  Garry got out of the pool and took a few more pictures (since we had none of Camryn’s birth, I was determined this time) and then went to get Camryn from downstairs.

Jessica walked in, said, “Do you have a baby yet?  And then came over to check us out.  I said I wasn’t sure if he was breathing or not so she sort of tipped him over a little and he started right away.  He recovered well and ended up with APGARs of 5 and 9.  I mentioned to Jessica that I hadn’t had much ‘bloody show’ and she said that was because my mucus plug was on his head…I was wondering what that was in his ear!



Camryn wanted to join the pool party so my husband brought her in while she checked out her new little brother.  A few minutes later I started having contractions again and was dreading delivering the placenta.  Not that it’s really meant to be fun but I was unhappy with how I delivered Camryn’s placenta so I was trying to do this one better!  We knew it was detached so I just kept kind of checking to see if I could feel it. 



I stood up for a few minutes (at which point Camryn walked around behind me. I asked what she was doing and she said, “Looking at mama’s booty!”  It was a definite cute moment!  After a few minutes, I decided to try squatting and soon I could feel with my hand that it was coming down.  It had that same cauliflower feeling that his head had and it felt SO big that for a moment, I was afraid it was a twin!  With the next contraction, I gave a few little pushes and it came out gently…so much nicer this time!  I pulled it out of the water and was glad to find that it wasn’t another baby, but just one of the thickest placentas my midwife has ever seen. No wonder it felt like another baby!

A few minutes later we all got out of the pool and onto the bed.  Camryn and Colson had their first tandem nursing session…he latched on wonderfully after just a few tries.  The next two hours were a blur of post-baby homebirth bliss.  Talking and joking and having a snack…just relaxing!  After an hour or so, the cord was declared ‘empty’ so we tied it off and Garry cut it.  Jessica then weighed Colson at 8 lbs 12.5 oz.  I was shocked and amazed!  He was 22.75 inches long, which also surprised me.  And the 14-inch head was a shocker as well, though it explained the feelings I was having while birthing him. Jessica finished checking him out, declared “he works,” helped clean up, and left us in peace to nap.  Gotta love a homebirth!



Colson has taken wonderfully to nursing.  I didn’t seem to get any of the yellow gold colostrum…it went straight from the watery milk I had the second half of pregnancy into ‘regular’ milk, which I found a little unsettling, but he is loving it and hopefully he didn’t miss out on too much good stuff!  We are now at almost 3 days post-partum and he is wonderful…a perfect little boy whose big sister is enthralled with him and whose parents adore him!”

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5 comments:

  1. I would like my next birth to be like that! :D

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  2. Maybe she didn't get any colostrum because she was tandem nursing. Is that common for tandem nursers?

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  3. My husband and I are planning an unassisted birth this time around. I love reading other's experiences! And, I love reading your blog in general. I've given you an award. Click below to receive it! http://lifewellloved.blogspot.com/2011/06/thank-you.html

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  4. My hubby and I had a good giggle over the "looking at mama's booty" comment.
    Beautiful birthing story though. I hope to have a similar one next time...no not hope. I WILL have one like that :D.
    happy baby moon.

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  5. I have known other tandem nursers and from what I recall, all have said that their milk returns to colostrum so I don't know?

    I was THRILLED with this birth and hope that any possible future births go the same way (this was mine btw lol)

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