Monday, February 6, 2012

The Birth Story of Ciarán James

Where does his story begin? The day of? The morning of? Or all the way back when he came into this world? He was unexpected, unexplained, although at least thanks to habit I can poke a guess at his conception date.

Ciarán didn’t fit into the pat, controlled concept of birth in the hippie world. He was close to his big brother and outside of a deliberate plan to conceive. I was nursing his two siblings. That’s just not responsible for a good hippie. The criticism was harsh, with some people even recommending abortion and telling me I was no longer part of the club.

It seemed strange to me, that people bent on telling the world about the strength and beauty of our bodies, could not fathom that a mama might be strong enough, dedicated enough, “attached” enough to care for more than 1 or *gasp* 2 children. I became somewhat disillusioned with the activist environment online and backed away from a lot of areas. Soon enough, though, I found that many people were still loving and supportive. They remained positive throughout the pregnancy and became a beautiful community of support.

The pregnancy itself was mundane, which I suppose is what every woman wants. No complications, no major complaints. My chiropractor deftly rubbed my hip pain away and aligned my ligaments with Webster Technique. Time passed quickly with two kiddos to entertain. Because of DH's history of severe CHD (Congenital Heart Defects) I always opt for one quick ultrasound scan later in the second trimester. Incidentally, CHD awareness week starts February 7th! And then, since I was getting an ultrasound, I had to find out if he was a boy or girl.

All the estimated due dates arrived, and passed. I looked into myself and did not feel any anxiety. It was not time. Ironically, I did not feel large enough!

Does this look like 11lbs of baby??
The night before labor, I joked on Facebook that I finally had a waddle. He was done swimming around and had moved into position. I didn’t think too much of it and went to bed as usual.

Contractions woke me up around 9am. (Hey, I like to sleep in on Sundays!) They were sharp, but about 10 minutes apart. An hour later, they were 5 minutes apart.

Unlike my other births, these contractions were severe and painful. By 11am, they didn’t seem to stop. I had a peak with sharp pain, but my uterus remained uncomfortably tight the entire time. I felt my ligaments getting sore and wondered how long I could continue to relax. I knew how effective it was to relax the body, to go with the contractions, but these were truly painful and shocking.

Meanwhile, of course, DH is running around the house because he can’t find the faucet connector for the hose. He eventually calls my sister and guides her over the phone on which one to buy! Things took so long that I barely had a waterbirth; the pool was about half full when he was born!

During this time, my labor was very random. I was in and out of the tub, on and off the toilet and running into various rooms or leaning against doorways. I wasn’t calm and didn’t want to stay in one place. Transition must have hit me at some point because I began to lose my positive affirmations. I remember asking DH if I was dying. He told me everything was normal and that made me very angry lol!

Although the total labor was about 5 hours long, somehow it just seems much more rushed than that, especially with the two kids being at home. DH didn’t call anyone to come over and I was too involved in labor to give any directions. Other than as I was experiencing a contraction, out of the depths of my mind I managed to tell DH to get the camera. He grabbed it and discovered the battery was missing. So I was trying to tell him where to find a battery while grunting. Ah, chaos!

As soon as the pool was filling, I climbed in, but quickly got out because the contractions were so intense that I felt caged. I ended up getting in and out frequently until about 7cm, when my body started pushing. It was a more rewarding sensation than the very painful contractions, but the pain was still there! I couldn’t believe I would be pushing with pain, and so soon! But I literally had no other option. My body was vomiting him out fiercely. I crawled into the birth pool and hollered out to the kids that the baby was coming out. They jumped in quickly and DH gave my 3 year old the videocamera.

I had a sudden moment of inspiration and yelled at DH to grab a rag and apply pressure along my rectum. He helped direct Ciarán’s head and this gave me the courage to go with the pushing. Without the pressure, I had a very scary image of my backside splitting. It was intense.

Push one, he was creating the horrible ring of fire. Push two, his head was out. After that second push, I felt a lull. I reached down and touched my baby, feeling his ear. Then I had this urge to keep tenderly feeling him. That's when I discovered a nuchal cord. I moved it over his head as it was fairly loose. This was all done on autopilot and didn't bother me. It's almost as if I was being guided completely on instinct. Interestingly, I later read a midwife's theory that sometimes babies with nuchal cords will remain "high" throughout pregnancy and labor until it is time for the pushing stage, at which point they will fly out of there. This is exactly what I experienced. Remember, I didn't feel him "drop" until the night before labor? It's fascinating how our bodies and babies work together in these cases.

Then, bam! Push three, he twirled from a transverse occiput/asynclitic position (sideways, tilted head) to normal anterior and his body slid out into my daughter’s hands with Daddy helping. My mind is still trying to process how quickly he went from being all the way up there, just barely able to touch the tip of his head, to flying out of me! I told DH I was going to scream right before push two, but I don’t know if I did or not.

The relief I felt as soon as he was out is not explainable. I suddenly felt completely normal, as if I could get up and go to work! Zon was over the moon that she was able to help the baby. I think this created trust in our relationship, because I told her she would be there for his birth and I was right. (Remember that she left right before her first brother was born and missed him arriving.) She seemed almost drunk, leaning on my shoulder and talking to the new baby. Ian said his usual, "OH WOW!" Then he happily ran around the pool, splashing. DH managed to get a family photo:

This rapid birth did not make for a calm entrance. Ciarán cried and swung his fists around, quite angry. He had a molded head, something my other children did not really experience. I could already see some swelling and petichia on his face. Poor guy! We found the videocamera in the water (bummer) and DH took a few photos, and then I moved into the bedroom because the water was getting cold. Ciarán latched right on and showed that he was a very strong nurser! He quickly calmed down and spent some time looking into my eyes. I love that alert newborn stage!

We waited an hour on the placenta, trying various tricks and herbs. After an hour, DH cut the cord so I could try traction, too, because by then I was consistently bleeding and did not like the amount I was seeing. As I moved to squat and took a looksy down there, I realized I had perineal tearing all the way into the rectum. At that point, with the blood loss and the desire to be stitched up, I decided to go into the hospital.

DH cut the limp cord.
When I arrived at the hospital, it threw everyone into a tizzy to see a woman with an umbilical cord hanging out and no baby. I filled them in and they moved me to a room. The doctor had the same concern I had when he saw the consistent blood flow. He couldn’t figure out why my uterus was so well clamped down, but the placenta was not detaching and I was still bleeding. So he used a light scope to check for lacerations on my cervix or any other complications. He tried some cord traction and said I had hit 200cc of blood loss. Before he could tell me what the next plan was in that situation, I stopped bleeding. The placenta still wouldn’t come out, so he used a catheter to see if I had a distended bladder. I didn’t. Then he gave one more push above the pubic bone and the placenta squirted out.

Everyone in the room had a perplexed look. We looked at the placenta and it was intact and healthy. He had no answers for me.

I brought the placenta home for encapsulation and smoothies. 

Meanwhile, the nurse IV’d me with some fluids to help with the blood loss and drew a vial to check my blood levels. The doctor injected lidocaine and began stitching me up; it took him about 20 minutes so it wasn’t a bad case, but also confirmed my instincts to go in for repairs as opposed to letting it heal on its own. He designated it as a 2nd degree tear.

He chatted with me while stitching and brought up the homebirth topic. I tensed, waiting for an argument, but he said, “It’s great that babies can be born the primal way…it’s just these kinds of cases that cause issues, but that’s what medicine is for!” I thought in my head, “I could hug you!” LOL And guess what, after I was stabilized, he did give me a hug and tell me congratulations on the birth and that he’s sorry I had to come in to the hospital.

The nurses were kind as well. The first nurse wanted to dote on me and talk about the baby, and her babies. She said things were really boring due to Superbowl Sunday. So I guess I gave them something to do. The second nurse was even more fun to hang out with; she had 4 babies naturally in the hospital and was considering homeschooling.

Breastfeeding bonding at the hospital while I'm waiting for my blood panel 

After all that blood loss, my levels came back just under a 10. I know that won’t show the complete bottom line, but I was happy to see that high of a number at all and will be working on my supply with Floradix, Chlorophyll and BS molasses.

Zon and Ian are both in love with their new brother and have each taken turns tandem nursing with him. I definitely think the commitment to triandem nurse is a huge help. Besides the tear-jerking sibling bonding I’ve witnessed since he was born, it’s just plain convenient to be able to nurse toddlers to sleep, then roll over to spend time with my newborn.

So that is his birth story in a nutshell. He was born on 2-5-12 at 2:20pm, measuring 23 inches long, with a 15 1/8 inch head. He has strawberry blonde, possibly curly hair and little toes like my brother. You can hear his name pronounced here:

I once again have so much to be grateful for and so many people to thank. Michelle lent out her birth pool again. Jennifer threw me a Blessingway and both she and Michelle A gave me birthing beads. My mom and siblings were super helpful afterwards, cleaning and babysitting the kiddos.

A supportive community is one of the biggest blessings a pregnant woman can have and I do not take it for granted after my initial experience when announcing his pregnancy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your positive thoughts, prayers and actions.

Proud Daddy holding his two intact sons (and the birth pool they both arrived in is in the background).

I was completely surprised that he weighed over 11lbs. I told my brother to reweigh him! LOL

First carseat ride!

*Some additional notes, especially for birth junkies*

I want to point out that my tearing is not necessarily something you can attribute to size. I have a small and scarred perineum from a poor suture job; when I was a teen I was mountain biking and bashed my poor bottom along the bike seat. :O I have torn with all 3 of my births, and all 3 were different positions, head sizes and departures. I know many women who have birthed big babies without tearing. So don't give up hope or expect the worst. Fortunately for me, it's an issue that doesn't give me anxiety and I heal quickly.

I also wanted to mention that the decision on after care is up to have as many options as you research, desire and prepare for in your individual birth experience. You could for example, research midwives in your area who can suture at home. You can even look into natural healing remedies such as honey, herbs and seaweed instead of suturing. You could opt for a midwife who carries pitocin and methergine so she can administer it if you begin to bleed. My decision to go to the hospital appealed to me alone based on what I did and did not want to do after the baby was born. I don't want anyone to feel that it's the only option available!


  1. I had no idea, people were so rude to you in the beginning.
    Love you Guggie, all us TF ladies do.

  2. Guggie, congratulations on your beautiful family. I'm thrilled for you that you had such an amazing delivery, and that the hospital staff were so great! I'm so happy for you. You're my "mama inspiration". I'm contemplating having a second one myself (my first is a few days older than Ian)and I love following your life (as creepy as that sounds!) on facebook. You rule!! And your kids are beautiful. And the look on Zon's face melts my heart. She seems like she's already a little mini-mama. much love. :)

  3. Wow your story actually brought tears to my eyes Guggie (in a good way). Thank you for sharing your wonderful birth story with us all! You are such a blessed and good momma. <3

  4. You did amazing. Thanks for sharing your story. Such good confirmation to mamas everywhere to follow their gut instinct and listen to our bodies. I'm still flabbergasted by him being 11lbs! I'd be split in two with a baby that big. Congrats to you and your DH and your deliriously happy Zon and Ian. :) Rest up momma!

  5. Congratulations, Guggie! Ciaran is beautiful and Ian looks so big! Congrats to Zonnie for catching the baby!

  6. so happy for you, Guggie, and thanks for sharing your birth story. I admire you.

  7. Aw you made me all teary <3<3

  8. Amazing Guggie! I was right there with you the whole time. Having conceived on May 2 and having given birth at home in a fast and hard 5 hour labor just like you, on Feb. 2... I tandemed through pregnancy 3 and triandemed during this pregnancy 4!! Best wishes to y'all, you are awesome!!

  9. Guggie,
    Absolutely amazing. Sorry you had to go to the hospital, But glad all went well. You are a strong woman. You inspire me so much. Ciaran is absolutely adorable. And he is very lucky to have you as a mother, Same for Ian and Zon. They picked the right persons to become their mother and father. <3 <3 <3 <3
    Enjoy your babymoon and try to rest. I wish I could send you a meal or something. But It's kinda impossible from so far away.

    Love from Florida.

    Kasey G

  10. Beautiful! I cry at every birth story I read and knowing that you were so supported warms my heart even more! Happy babymoon!

  11. congratulations on your beautiful big baby boy. sorry to hear of that initial response and so glad you found the support you deserve. <3

  12. Congratulations! HE is beautiful!

  13. Congratulations Guggie! I went to your page to say hello and congrats but I am not longer your friend. Anyhow. He is a beautiful baby boy. Enjoy your babymoon momma!

  14. Thank you for sharing this. I am sorry that you had so many negative comments -- I had no idea! As a newish cruchy mamma it never dawned on me for a second that you wouldnt be able to handle this baby! How ridiculous!!
    His birth story was AMAZING-- as a c-section mom it is truly inspirational. I am in the process of reading up on VBAC and cant wait to push a baby out! Enjoy your babymoon! lots of love and hugs to a beautiful family! ( oh and I usually cringe when I hear someone is having a boy but I knew you were keeping him intact and it was nice to enjoy the pregnancy and birth of a boy :)

  15. Wow... What a story! You proved how vital it is to listen to your inner mama instincts .... Good for you. Blood loss can definitely be serious . Congratulations on your beautiful family!!!!!

  16. As usual your birth story brings me to tears. You are so blessed, and have children that are blessed to be born into such a loving and thoughtful home. Congratulations to you, your husband, and the kids, on your new (adorable) addition.
    I've always said that people get what they deserve in this life...and you certainly have.
    Lots of love to you all.

  17. Congratulations, Guggie!! Great birth story. ;)

  18. Guggie, this was great! It reminded me a little of my last birth story (he's almost 1 year now). Love the name!!!

    I am so happy you had a good doctor. It's what every woman deserves, should she need one. Did they say what the tearing degree was? [Again, it was kind of like my own story in some ways, and I'm curious to weigh it against my own.]

    Thanks so much for sharing!!! <3

  19. Congrats Guggie! :D glad it all went ok.


  20. Did they confirm a 4th degree laceration that you thought you saw? I hope it wasn't that severe.

    Congratulations!! How do we pronounce the name? KEER-in?

  21. Congratulations again! I love the birth story! You are amazing!

  22. Congrat again. He is beautiful. I love the doctor;s response. What a smart man.

  23. Wow what a wonderful birth story, Congratulations! Your baby boy is adorable :)

  24. Way to birth, Guggie! Thanks for sharing your story! I totally cried with relief that the hospital staff treated you so well...

    I'm sorry you had to deal with so much flack in the beginning! I've had the total opposite experience with hippies. Huh.

    Oh, and I love your family portrait, and that one pic especially with your man holding Ciarán; they look so much alike! Heehee! Ciarán totally has your nose though, hey?

    ~Undisturbed Birth

  25. It was confirmed as a 2nd degree tear and two anal fissures. :OOO LOL

  26. WHAT A MOTHER & WOMAN YOU ARE! That is all I have to say!

  27. *sigh* I just wrote a big ol heartfelt message to you and it disappeared......... :'(

  28. Well done Guggie! It was a great read too. Glad everyone is safe and well, and that the medical staff were pleasant. Enjoy this special bonding time with your wee one.


  29. Oh, Guggie! CONGRATULATIONS!!! I am so happy for you, and was from the very beginning! I miss you on FB, but I'm glad to still be able to read your blog ;-) Love and blessings to you and your entire family! ~Erica Belcher

  30. I love this!
    Congratulations on your new big little guy :)
    My second was 11lbs 4oz -no tearing or epesiotomy, and my third was a Homebirth. Unfortunately only my third is intact as with the first two I was still in a somewhat brainwashed stage by my family (I have 7+ medical professionals in my family...)
    I Love birth stories but almost have to stay away from them because the good ones like this make me want to do it again! ;)
    I understand about people thinking you're crazy for three but can't imagine people actually suggesting to abort. That is unthinkable... Our first and third started out as unplanned, but then we Planned on having them ;)
    If I ever have another blessing I would love a home water-birth with the siblings present and I would love to tandem nurse. I wish I could now but my just turned 3 year old and my 1 3/4 year old have both been off the breast since 9m and show little interested in them now...
    I hope to make my 12 months Minimum goal with my now five month old and to nurse him well beyond a year.
    Good luck adjusting to having three, I have three little boys and it was the third one that made it 'easier' :) though mine are younger than yours...
    Amazing story -you are awesome!

  31. Congratulations Guggie!!! I love the pictures and especially seeing Zon looking so lovingly on her baby brother! You are a true inspiration! Love you! - Xena

  32. Congratulations Guggie and Sanfis! What an adventure! I hadn't known you were given any flack at the beginning of your pregnancy, but it's almost unbelievable to me that anyone who knows anything about you would think you were being irresponsible with your children. You're a wonderful mama and Ciarán, Ian, and Zon are all very lucky little bubs. And 11 pounds! Enjoy your babymoon. <3 <3

  33. Congratulations Guggie and Sanfis! What an adventure! I hadn't known you were given any flack at the beginning of your pregnancy, but it's almost unbelievable to me that anyone who knows anything about you would think you were being irresponsible with your children. You're a wonderful mama and Ciarán, Ian, and Zon are all very lucky little bubs. And 11 pounds! Enjoy your babymoon. <3 <3

  34. Yay!!!! Congratulations! :) So wonderful and inspirational, as always.

  35. So, Guggie, does this mean you got your 9, 10 and 11 pounders??? :D :D :D Oh I really hope so, because I know how happy, happy, happy that would make you!

    I am so sorry to hear that you were berated and shunned when you announced you would be welcoming a new little soul into your family. Wow. I had no idea. I know that you know this, and have likely already considered it, but for every Negasaurus Rex and Negative Nancy out there, you have hundreds (literally!) of people that not only respect you, but hold a special place in their hearts for you. There are people that judge harshly and unfairly but their voices are NOT louder than ours!

    And although it came about for an unfortunate reason, maybe a little break is just what you needed. :) I hope the minority doesn’t ruin it for the majority. You are needed - not just by the mommas, but the babies of the mommas you help so very much.

    Congratulations on your big, beautiful, amazing boy! I am so very happy for you! :) :) :) I love how honest and real you are in telling Ciaran’s birth story, although I will admit the honesty was somehow comforting and disconcerting all at once! HA!

    (This message was so much better the FIRST time I wrote it - before the computer ate it! lol)

  36. You are AMAZING!! Congrats and many blessings!! <3

  37. Congrats, Guggie, Sanfis, Zon and Ian!! Enjoy the babymoon!!

  38. I'm so sorry there were people suggesting to abort for a third child. That is insane!

    I hope you have as many as your hearts content!!! You and Sansif are incredible parents! Every child you have (will have) is lucky to be born into your incredible family.

    Thank you for sharing your birth story. I think its amazing that you have the strength to go through pregnancy and birth without Midwives (not dogging on anyone who chooses a MW). It shows you're very confident and you trust your body to give birth. I'll venture to say, every woman desires that confidence.

  39. Congratulations!!! What an awesome birth story and I loved the photos! I can relate a bit. With my third birth, I reached inside to see if I could feel his head and despite reaching as far as I could possibly go, I could not even feel his head. He was born less than 2 minutes later, ha ha! And the placenta did not want to detach. I did have midwives for my homebirth and they were really chill about it. We didn't try anything at all until about an hour and half after he was born -- up until then I just bonded and nursed him while still in the birth pool (mine stayed warm). But at that point, my MWs thought we should star trying some things. That sucker did not want to come out but we never did anything too invasive. Eventually I pushed it out on my own.

  40. just so ya know how I feel, It would be insane to even suggest abortion for any number child. Man, my heart still hurts to know you went through that :(

    oxox love you, Guggie. Praying for you to have a blissful babymoon and speedy recovery.

  41. Congratulations Guggie and family. Welcome to the world, little guy. I was sad and surprised to read that some people have been unkind in the early days - not cool at all. Sending lots of love from NZ, x

  42. Beautiful birth story, I loved reading it so thank you for sharing. Congratulations and well done. Many wishes for health and happiness to your family.

  43. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing this birth story. I appreciated every word. Oh, and you're my hero! :)