Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guest Mama: Gwendolyn's Birth

I'm so excited to share on this blog the very first story of a natural home birth! My guest mama writer is Mikah, who previously wrote Adelaide's story. After overcoming a difficult first birth to son Harvey Danger and then successfully giving birth to Adelaide Kay via unmedicated VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarian), Mikah took things under her own control even further and decided to deliver her third little one, Gwendolyn Dare, with a midwife and doula in her own home. I have to admit that the idea of giving birth at home is divine--what I wouldn't give to be in my own sheets, pattering barefoot slowly through my own kitchen, rummaging through my own fridge, and not in a hospital following the births of my children! I haven't made that leap though, and as we are thinking we are likely done having children, I will just have to relish the stories of my home-birthing friends. Without further ado, please read the story of Gwendolyn Dare's birth, told in the words of mama Mikah.
The Birth of Gwendolyn Dare
I am holding on to my beautiful water-born baby as I am trying to find the words to describe her entrance into this world. Because she was born in the water and because of my love of fairy tales, I have decided to call her my little mermaid.

I woke up with a very uncomfortable contraction around 5:15AM on Thursday, September 4th. I lay there for a few minutes and decided to get up and have something to eat just in case this was it. I ate and rocked back and forth on my ball for a few minutes. Contractions were coming, but were very irregular. I went outside and walked our long driveway. My husband Jarrod woke up and we talked about what was happening. He wanted to stay home to get things ready. I insisted that he went to work. I was so unsure that this was the day because of the irregularity of my contractions. After he left, I went back up stairs to lie down, and I fell asleep for about an hour.

My children, Harvey and Adelaide, woke up. We had breakfast and got dressed. I was still contracting irregularly. The contractions were intense enough that I would have to stop talking during them. My babes had a hard time understanding why I wasn’t answering them at times.

I phoned my midwife Dawn around 8AM to tell her what was happening and see where she was doing clinic that day. She was in Oklahoma City, which is two hours from me.  We decided to give the breast pump a try to see if we could get the contractions to organize themselves. I turned on a movie for us to watch while I used the pump. It seems that soon after is when my contractions did start to even out to around 10-15 minutes apart. However, between taking care of two toddlers and the tidying up I was doing, I was not timing them and focusing on them as I should. I changed our sheets, swept, vacuumed, changed diapers, and prepared lunch as I normally would, leaning on the furniture and swaying my hips during contractions.

I talked to Jarrod and told him I was still unsure. We decided that he could leave work after lunchtime, and that I should call him to let him know. At 2PM I wrestled the kids up the stairs for nap time. Contractions were so strong at this point and about seven minutes apart.  I was able to lay Adelaide down, but did not even attempt to get Harvey down for a nap. I needed my husband. At 2:45PM, I called Jarrod to come home and called to update Dawn. I told Dawn I would call her in an hour to update.

Jarrod found me lying in bed with Harvey.  When he got there, I think I realized that I had been holding my body back. As soon as Jarrod got home, I was able to relax and labor the way I prefer. Having him home freed me to focus on the work my body was doing. I turned on some music and got on my ball. I inhaled essential oils and eventually got in the shower to let the hot water run on my back. While in the shower, Jarrod set up the birth pool with the help of Harvey, who was so fascinated and excited about “the baby being pulled from the water.” I was in the shower when I noticed just how fast things were moving, contractions rolling in at 5 minutes apart and so strong. It had only been 45 minutes, but at 3:30 I called my birth team and said that I needed them to head this way.  They were still in OKC at the time.

I dressed and got back on my ball. Jarrod joined me upstairs as I leaned on the bed, swayed on the ball, and held his hand through contractions. Jarrod told me he needed to finish getting the pool ready. He helped me down the stairs. My dad came home, concerned about the pain I was in. I again sat on my ball and leaned on the chair. Jarrod had a hard time with the pool. The pump we borrowed would not work right, hoses leaked, he forgot the liner, and the hot water ran out. He was problem-solving this while stopping to hold onto me during contractions, which were about three minutes apart now.  My sweet three-year-old son held my hands during a few contractions and offered me a drink of chocolate milk. The milk was not what I wanted, but I was amazed at his perception that mommy needed to just hold someone’s hand.  Then I threw up; I knew I was getting close, probably in transition. I really began to focus on the words of the music in the background. I can remember, “Take the World, but give me Jesus.” As contractions rolled and crashed in, I took comfort in those words and surrendered to what my body was doing.

Harvey helping out during a contraction
 My friend Adrea and her daughter Bailey arrived at about 5PM. I could not talk or even look up to acknowledge them. Adrea sat quietly, offering help where she could, and praying for me. Bailey helped keep the kids occupied in the next room. The pressure began to build up and by 5:30 I could not sit down during contractions. Adrea and Jarrod were boiling three pots of water at a time to fill up the pool.  At 6PM I told Jarrod that I was close and to call the midwife to see if they were lost. Because of construction, they were still about 20 minutes out. My mom arrived at around this time as well.

So, in the living room of the house I grew up in and the house Jarrod and I were married, I got into the pool ready to bring my baby into the world. The water felt so amazing. I do not talk during labor but I was able to look at Jarrod and say, “This feels wonderful.” The warmth helped soothe my back labor and the water made it easier to move and change positions, which is normally incredibly difficult for me this far into labor. They continued to bring in hot water from the stove at my request. I was able to lean back to rest and quickly move to my knees during a contraction. Jarrod knelt just on the outside of the pool and I would put my head to his and hold his hands to ground myself. To help relieve the pain, I began to follow my body’s urge to push. I kept looking at the clock knowing that soon the midwife and doula would be here.

Around 6:20PM the midwife Dawn and her doula assistant Brandy arrived with smiles and set to work. Dawn told me I was doing great and that she would check me if I wanted. Brandy quickly came in to check the baby’s heart rate. Baby sounded great and was very low; I could tell by were she held the Doppler. Dawn came in to check me at my request. I was at 9 ½, very soft, my water was still intact, with baby’s head at a 1+ station. Dawn told me to do what I felt was best. I told her it was more comfortable to push. I stayed leaning back for a few minutes to prepare myself, then moved to my knees and leaned over the side of the pool and on Jarrod. I began to push, gently because honestly my body was doing most of the work.

My water broke and it was clear. After that, things went so fast. I continued to lean head to head with Jarrod and pushed. It was so gentle and controlled that Jarrod had to ask if I was pushing. I told him it hurt and then I felt the ring of fire, so amazing. It was then that I put a little more effort into my pushing. Dawn said she heard me moan and rushed in. I said, “The baby is coming!” and out came the head. Jarrod went around to catch the baby and I had to ask if they were ready before pushing out the body. I quickly turned around and grabbed baby. We were all so happy. I looked up and my parents were beaming and in ran both Harvey and Adelaide.

A warm towel was quickly thrown over us. Brandy sucked out the baby’s mouth. I then got to look and see what little person we had been given. A little girl, with long black hair, born at 6:37PM and her name is Gwendolyn, my little mermaid. She was born just 17 minutes after the birth team arrived, beautifully and gently. I was amazed at her, especially her hair, and we talked about how different she looked. I relaxed there in the water as we waited for the cord to quit pulsing and to deliver the placenta. I let her do the breast crawl and begin nursing, which she took to right away.

Gwendolyn, eyes open

I have normally ended my birth stories here, but I must add to this because the care and attention I received from Dawn and Brandy was wonderful. I wish every woman was treated with such respect during and after birth. Delivering in the water was very protective of my modesty, which I did not think was possible during birth.

After I delivered the placenta, Dawn and Brandy helped me out of the pool and got me on the couch. Her daddy and family held Gwendolyn while they checked on me. I had no need for stitches and I told Dawn she was my hero for telling me this! I just rested on the couch while baby doll nursed and was held skin-to-skin. Every 15 minutes I was given an herbal remedy to ease after-birth pains and my blood pressure and temperature were checked. Dawn and Brandy cleaned up the pool and my parents cooked dinner. All of her measurements were done right there close.  Then Dawn sat with me and wrote out her birth certificate info and did her footprints. They helped me to go to the bathroom and got me ready for dinner. Brandy also went upstairs to prepare my bed and bathroom. When I went to bed that night, everything was so neatly set up and easily accessible. I think she might have even wiped our toilet down. Brandy also delivered my placenta for encapsulation. They stayed for several hours cleaning and caring for baby and me. The next day, Dawn came back to our house to check on us.
Open-mouthed kisses with sister Adelaide

The Danger loves his newest little family member
 I have spent the last week trying to breathe in every bit of Gwendolyn’s newness. Her birth was perfect. Giving birth is hard work and requires everything you have, and eventually you have to surrender yourself to the amazing creation you are.

**Mikah chose to utilize services from Moments of Bliss Midwifery.**

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