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My beautiful birth with Lucille led me on a journey. A journey to find information, facts and statistics that were not easy to come by in our society. This information wasn’t prevalent and it wasn’t really even discussed, almost a taboo topic, but I felt so strongly that this was the path I wanted to take and that nothing was going to stop me from arming myself with all the information I could to make the best decision for me, my body, my family and my future baby.
After months of reading it all started to make sense and yet it confused me more. Home birth was a beautiful and safe option for so many women yet only about 1% of mothers were choosing to birth their babies this way. I armed myself with my “tribe”, like minded women who could help cultivate this passion for learning about home birth and if it was really the best option for me. Just a few months later, I received the best news, we were expecting again, and this time I knew if all went as planned, I would bring this beautiful baby into the world within the walls of my home.
I was lucky enough to meet Kim, my midwife. Right from the first meeting she eased any little bit of apprehension I still had. I knew NO ONE who had done this before, so obviously I was a little nervous for that reason alone. This was a scary feeling, would I have the support I needed? I would be the first of my circle of friends and family to birth a baby at home and I wanted to be sure that I would have support during this very unknown journey ahead. I had the research but I needed that emotional support, and boy, was Kim just the perfect person for the job.
So month after month I visited Kim, Just like a typical monthly visit with my OBGYN from before, but something was very very different. Instead of meeting new doctors every visit who seemed to rush me out after a 5 minute appointment, I sat there in Kim’s dimly light office talking about my diet, my questions and most importantly my feelings. My appointments were never 5 minutes, and that was such a good thing. I left every visit feeling like she really understood me and was looking out for my best interest. She never demanded anything from me instead armed me with the tools to make the best decisions for me and my baby. She wanted to give me all the information she could so I could do this, not because she told me to and I blindly listened, because she knew that women are capable of so much more than society leads us to believe. I learned things this pregnancy that no one ever took the time to explain to me the last time around. Without her I don’t know if I would have followed this plan, without her I don’t know if everything would have run so smoothly. I owe her a lot. She gave me an opportunity that I wish so many more mothers had. This is why I want to share my story of Edith’s birth. Home birth might not be the choice for everyone, and that is ok, but we need to raise the bar on our standard of care in this country. What should our expectations be? What is ok? Should we be told what to do or given the power and knowledge to make those very important decisions ourselves. We should all have someone like Kim holding our hand, teaching us, and whispering in our ear “you can do this” as we take this journey together. Women supporting women in one of the most natural and beautiful experiences of our lives.
So here it is, the beautiful home birth of my Edith Ruby…
39 weeks, 1 day. Today I woke up and felt off. I had never been pregnant this long. Lucille was born exactly one week early and so I just expected that this baby would be born early too. In my irrational thoughts I felt “late”. Funny thing, this idea of being “late” like there is some magical way we will know what day is the best day for our baby to be born. Either way I couldn’t help feeling this way but I had my little Lu to distract me. This pregnancy thing was so different with a toddler. I didn’t get to sit and put my feet up. My little 17 month old was running around me and keeping me on my toes. Really it was the best thing for me because it kept me distracted. The week seemed to fly by as I held my little girl in my arms cherishing every last second I had of her being my only child.
The night before her due date I felt great. Lot’s of energy and just genuinely happy. At this point I was pretty confident I would go past her due date. As I closed my eyes for bed I jokingly said to Scott that I “knew” I wouldn’t have a baby tomorrow. “No one has a baby on their due date” and boy was I wrong.
4am. Almost exactly like Lucille’s labor, I was woken up from my sleep with what felt like very light menstrual cramps. I quietly retreated downstairs and turned on the TV. Did you know there is nothing on TV at 4 in the morning? I think I decided on a “who is the daddy” episode of Jerry Springer. Hey, it was distracting. I couldn’t sleep. I tried to close my eyes but just didn’t feel tired. I was calm but I could feel the adrenaline pumping. This could be it. I started timing my contractions and right from the start they were 45 seconds long and about 6 minutes apart. Remembering my labor with Lucille and the intensity that would eventually develop I knew I had a long way to go.
Around 6:30am Scott walked down with Lucille in his arms. We called my mom and got Lu ready for the day. The plan was my mom was to take her out for a few hours so we could relax and get everything set up. I held Lu as Scott put together our breakfast. Her legs wrapped around my belly as it started to tighten, the progression of her sister finally making her debut. I felt amazing. I felt strong. I was so extremely excited and relaxed at the same time. I handed Lu her little packed snacks and off she went with her Grandmama to “the bouncy house place”. It was the perfect place to distract her, this could take a while.
The next few hours seemed to flow quietly by. Around 8 we called Kim. She was at another birth. I wasn’t worried, I was still comfortable and listening to my body. I knew I still had some time to go. Scott set up the birthing tub. Poor guy, he was probably really stressed about this part. There were so many stipulations on how it should be set up, on time but not too early, it can’t be cold but can’t be too hot, and he had to do it basically on his own. I sat on the couch in deep meditation most of the day. My hypnobirthing made me very present to my body but also made me completely unaware of my surroundings. Suddenly hours flew by and I noticed the intensity gained so I called Kim again. She was still at the same birth, 36 hours she was with this other mom. I was still able to talk and to eat and to walk around and I felt calm about the situation. Kim decided to call a back up just in case and soon after I had Arlene and Erica show up at my door. To be honest I don’t really recall the next few hours. I was in such a zone. I remember Arlene coming by me, quietly taking babies heartbeat, trying not to interupt my relaxation. I sat on the birthing ball just listening to my rainbow relaxation. It felt like a flash and then I saw Kim walking through the door of the room I was in. I felt a sigh of relief just seeing her face. She made me calm just by being around. Now I was ready. Now I had everything I needed to bring my baby into this world.
At this point I had no concept of time, how long I had been in labor or who was in my house. I could hear people talking in the other room but it didn’t really concern me. I was concerned at how “slow” I felt things were progressing. Kim asked if I wanted to be checked. Up until that point I had decided not to be checked but I was intrigued to see where I was in my labor. Based on my surges I was expecting maybe 4cm dilated but no… I was almost 8cm dilated. No way. I insisted with her that the intensity just wasn’t there. I still felt great, working through my surges calmly and feeling completely relaxed. It was true, I was indeed 8cm and my baby girl would be here so very soon. At this point things did start to get more uncomfortable. I spent some more time on the birthing ball and then as the pressure started to build I decided to get into the tub. One small problem. The water was way too hot. Scott, being so concerned that the water would cool too much (the water needs to be a certain temperature to be safe for the baby) made the water so hot that I now couldn’t get it. So out came the ice cubes and it was actually fairly easy to get the temperature where it needed to be. So in I went and what a world of difference it was. The natural births epidural, they call it. It did feel really good. As the time passed the exertion of energy and the warm water caused me to be uncomfortably hot. Scott jumped for cold wash clothes on demand and it felt like such a comfort as they rested on the back of my neck.
Kim tells me there is really only one hard hour of labor. One really long and slow moving hour. I was tired and it was more difficult to focus. My contractions were intense. There is no denying that labor is not easy, but something very important happened right as things started to get really hard. My husband held me and didn’t let me go. When I was weak he found my strength. When I doubted myself he reassured me that I was strong. When I thought I couldn’t go anymore he showed me that I can do anything and I was made for this. Yes I brought this baby into this world but his job was just as important. Without him I would have fallen, he was my strength and my calm, and he held me when I was at my weakest.
As I wrapped my arms around his neck and pushed I felt discouraged. I was ready to meet her. Maybe I had expectations that this labor would be faster than my last. “Her head is close”, they said, “maybe half an inch”. One more push and my water broke. A few more pushes and still no baby. “Squat” Kim suggested. I was scared, I had never birthed a baby that way before. I used all of the energy I had left to stand and give one last push. “She is here” they said. As I looked in the water below me I could see hair. “Reach down”, they said. As I took my arms from my husbands neck I reached down to grab my baby girl and I lifted her out of the water and onto my chest. It was almost like a slow motion reel, how amazing of a moment that I wish it would replay over and over. She was here. I did it. At my weakest I felt my strongest. I had the most amazing support team, my tribe, and they encouraged me and supported me and I was able to bring my daughter earth side all on my own. Women are truly amazing. I reached for her and I pulled her from her home of ten months and into my arms, her new home. The home that will be hers for the rest of her life. I couldn’t contain my emotions.
We spent some time in tub. I stared into her beautiful eyes. We came out of the tub, my legs were trembling they were so tired, everyone basically had to carry me as I held my baby in my arms. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating. I nursed as I birthed my placenta. Kim took the time to show me where my baby had lived the past 40 weeks. What an amazing home.
Lucille came in just minutes after we got out of the tub. She held her sister. I talked to her about what happened and what a special moment this was. It was her sister’s BIRTH-day. There really is no better feeling than seeing the love between your children and I could see it then how much Lucille was in love with her sister. I remember why I wanted this type of birth, to be comfortable at home, with the ones I love and that included my daughter. I wanted her to be involved in this special experience. I wanted to sleep my first night as a family of four in my home.
Kim stayed by my side for the next few hours. The ladies cleaned up, helped me shower, stitched me up (just a few tears), made sure I was comfortable nursing, even did the laundry, all while checking me and the baby’s stats every few minutes.
My Superhero team – Kim, Erica and Arlene
I couldn’t have asked for a more special way to bring my daughter into this world. She was a healthy 7lbs 6 ozs. I was feeling great. We decided to call her Edith Ruby.
I hope you enjoyed reliving this special memory with me. If you have any questions or want to talk more about home birth (or any birth for that matter) I would love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out.
If you are having a baby in the Tampa area I would highly suggest reaching out to Kim at Sweet Child O’ Mine. They now have a beautiful birth center and I can not say enough good things about her and her staff.