Stephanie's Birth Story Baby Nico born January 26th
Stephanie laboured and birthed at home with the support of husband Lucho, three-year son Jordi, and friends and midwives! Baby Nico was welcomed into the warmth of family arms, her arrival part of the natural flow of extraordinary daily living.
Baby Nico born January 26th 12:52 PM
I woke at 3:30 AM on Monday, January 26th with cramps that radiated to my back and a few loose bowel movements. The contractions were infrequent and totally manageable but I was nervous at first and couldn’t fall back asleep thinking of the details. I decided to work with the “edges” of the pain (noticing where it started and finished) and then going into the centre which I imagined as my cervix opening as a big blue circle. My husband Lucho had to get our son Jordi back to sleep at around 6:30 AM and when he got back to bed I told him I was in labour. He was excited. But neither of us knew how fast it would progress.
At 7 AM we tried timing contractions some were 5 minutes apart, some were more like 10, but none of them took my breath away so I knew it was too soon to call the midwives.
We got up with Jordi and Lucho called Steph and Peter to put them on stand-by. Afterwards Lucho thought it would be best just to send Jordi to daycare…Last week (before Francine, his teacher, left on vacation) I would have agreed, but I said “No”, knowing he’d be meeting the replacement for the first time and feeling anxious and not wanting him to miss the event and to feel rejected somehow…And yet I sympathized with Lucho having to do all the last minute prep, look after Jordi and support me. Finally it was agreed that he could go to Steph and Peter’s…Throughout all this processing I was having contractions but I was really on top of them and feeling quite high.
Jordi who we didn’t tell that I was in labour ‘cause our plans were up in the air seemed to just know. He was excited and into his usual chatter of knights and robots and lego, etc. He looked so beautiful and, in spite of the contractions, I kept interacting with him quite joyfully. At one point I asked where the birthing stool was and he went and got it and then rubbed my back, saying “You’re helping Mummy.” Then he made a low sound and said “You’re making noises to get the baby out.”
After 9 AM I called Micheline (midwife). I was able to talk through my contractions so I thought she may wait. But she said they would come over to set-up and take it from there. After getting off the phone the contractions intensified. I had been doing stuff and dancing a bit to Kraftwerk (which Jordi wanted to put on). I started leaning over Lucho’s chest-of-drawers for the contractions. Lucho must have still been tidying and playing a bit with Jordi.
By the time the midwives arrived (before 10 AM) I was starting to vocal tone and Lucho was supporting me more through the contractions. Karine, Micheline’s student who did almost everything, checked me and I was fully dilated so I guess I’d gone through transition relatively easily…When the midwives arrived (4 all together) Jordi got very excited as they took out all their equipment. And he went to get his “tools” (“that you will use to get the baby out”) his toy medical kit.
Around this time I was making more noise and Jordi said “Stop!”. I told him it was OK but he started getting anxious when they closed the door to do the vaginal exam and Micheline said “Is your friend coming?” so Lucho called Steph to come to our place “NOW!” and she said after that she had rushed over. So, fully-dilated, I did not feel the urge to push. For a while I think I was in the zone getting into breathing or toning, holding Lucho. At one point my water broke which felt good. I seemed to be kneeling a lot, either on the futon on the floor or on the bed, with Lucho supporting me in front. They got me onto the birthing stool to open my pelvis more a hard transition but it made sense. There was a mirror so I could see how swollen/engorged my vulva was a little bit scary. I felt the baby’s head by putting my finger inside my vagina at one point and that was somewhat encouraging, though her head was quite high.
Karine tried to get me to pee, saying the bladder being full could prevent her coming down…I tried going on the toilet and that didn’t work and it meant having to change positions again when I got back. Micheline tried to get me on my side and I said “No!” During this phase I started getting discouraged. I felt like I really needed the rests in between and I was able to talk/interact a bit but I didn’t seem to be able marshal whatever tools or mental process I needed…It must have been around 12 PM when I started feeling a kind of impatience in the room, with 3 midwives just watching and trying to give advice…I tried standing up and moving my hips, which I remembered from Clearlight’s class, and Karine told me after I seemed to always go to the right side, so I must have intuitively been moving baby’s head in the direction it needed to go.
With still no urge to push they started telling me to just use the contraction to push. This felt more productive but Karine kept saying “You’re not pushing” where she had her fingers…I was a bit at a loss as to which muscles to engage. Meanwhile, Micheline was saying “make grunting noises not from the throat” and I didn’t seem to fully ‘get’ that, either. At one point I was grunting with the contractions and they petered out and the grunt just sounded hollow so I started laughing and everyone else laughed.
I’m not sure how all of this sounded to Steph in the next room…all this noise and still no baby?! We could hear Jordi singing ‘Walking on the Moon’. It was nice hearing him talking to Steph (who had Sophia, aged 3 months, with her) telling her about his planets and spaceships, etc. But the ordinariness of it filled me with longing to be through the ordeal. I tried pleading “Come on baby, go down” and other times I’d start losing it, saying “I just want this baby out!” So, I guess pushing efforts paid off a bit ‘cause they got me on my back (like the time with Jordi) and held my legs which I couldn’t relax and got me to push…By this point I could feel the pressure on my rectum and I got to feel baby’s head much further down so I knew it was close.
A couple more pushes and she was out! Now this was the moment I was waiting for, holding my wet, squirmy, coughing, crying, vernix-covered baby. I assumed it was a he and I was saying “Is he OK? Will someone please tell me he’s OK?” And then I said, “Is it a boy?” and they said “Why don’t you check?” and I looked and saw it was a girl, which made me very happy. Jordi came into the room, and then Steph…It was all very exciting, with Steph holding Sophia and taking pictures and lots of congratulations and me being given shots of this and that…Jordi looked a bit surprised to see how the baby looked and probably seeing my exposed, bloody vagina and whatever else…Anyway, she was healthy and we were elated and after a while I held her by my side and she latched right away joy of joys!
The placenta was delivered fine [Micheline told me after that Jordi said, “Now the placenta is going to be born!”] and Lucho and Jordi cut the cord! I was keenly aware of the soreness of my anus, but I could pee OK after and didn’t need stitches. It turns out that Nicolasa was posterior she came out looking up at the ceiling and had some molding on the front of her head. So, Micheline said that maybe something about the shape of my pelvis makes it hard form my babies to get into the right position. I was so relieved and happy that she came at last (all told active labour was about 2+ hours and waiting to push/actual pushing around 2 hours so really not bad!) It was so great to be at home and just to relax after, do all the exams and get fed and cared for. And the sun poured into the room all day.
*Technical notes: She was posterior, but they couldn’t know her position for sure because the swelling in her had was in the way of the part of the head that should be presenting so they could only guess; based on the size of the swelling she had probably been stuck for 3-4 hours. So, if that hadn’t been in the way she would have been born at 9 AM.