"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the begining of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation or love and trust."
Suzanne Arms

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Illyria's Freebirth Video

The birth of Illyria Karmen Mason 11.14.12

This is my 7th natural birth, 5th unassisted birth and 2nd girl!  

For those who haven't read the birth story to go along with this video you can find it HERE

A bit of background for those who haven't read the story.  My body started pushing about 2 hrs before but I was tired so I found a position that made the contractions light enough that I could relax through them without pushing (usually they are so strong I don't have this option).  This was the 4th or 5th contraction after I changed positions and my body started really pushing.
The video starts when my friend happened to turn on the camera on the exact contraction where she was born.  My husband Charlie is doing the hip squeeze because I have horrible back pain when pushing.

Excuse the kids bed heads and the shaky video, it is just a little flip camera and my friend Sam was also taking pictures and wrangling kids! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Birth Story of Illyria Karmen Mason

Illyria Karmen Mason
1:07pm Nov. 14, 2012

I have a video of the very end of the birth (though reading the story first puts the video in context).  
It can be found HERE!!

"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" Jeremiah 29:11

 I gave birth 3 days ago, to my 7th child and 2nd daughter!  Our 5th unassisted birth at home.  In order to give the full story of the birth I need to start with . . .  

The Pregnancy

I really don’t have a lot of complaints in pregnancy.  I have the occasional aches, pains and discomfort that all pregnant women have.  Morning sickness usually lasts till 12-16 wks.  24/7 nausea is annoying but bearable and at least I’m not vomiting day and night or anything.  I sometimes have sciatic pain; heartburn can be either bad or mild (actually fairly mild this time considering).  And of course the emotional stuff that comes with pregnancy . . . I mean I can get emotional or stressed, but I don’t think I turn into a crazy woman or anything (though Charlie may beg to differ with that one).   I have very few complaints and I usually enjoy being pregnant.  

But this pregnancy was a bit different.  I still had few real complaints, but I had more ‘health’ issues (though even those weren’t super bad).  I was far more emotional, I didn’t handle stress as well, I had some 2nd trimester contractions that were a bit strong for my comfort, I had some issues with my blood sugar, yeast, and exhaustion (more than my normal pregnancy exhaustion) and I even got shingles.  I usually can’t relate to people who complain about pregnancy and are ready to have it over with.  But by the time I was into my 3rd trimester I had a revelation that I was finished, I was tired of being pregnant and ready for it to end.  I was not handling it well at all and my body was tired.  Of course Charlie found it funny that I was just now realizing this, because apparently he had that figured out a while ago!

Basically it was a wake up call for me.  I AM NOT SUPER WOMAN!!  I tend to neglect myself because, well, I have a bunch of kids who need me.  But my friend Tierney (who is also a midwife) told me something I had known but wasn’t willing to admit . . . . my body was likely depleted  from all the years of being pregnant and nursing . . . something she had seen many times before.  No wonder I wasn’t handling stress well!!  And all of this made me realize that I really need to take better care of myself, even if it was with little things like taking supplements that I am horrible at remembering to take.  I have always been healthy but I suppose it makes since that being pregnant 7 times in 12 years and nursing for 12 years straight is going to affect me eventually if I am not careful . . .  duh!!  So after the wonderful case of shingles at around 30 wks (which by the way had the fortunate side effect of giving my kids chicken pox, something I had been wanting to expose them to for a while) I started buckling down on the supplements, and making sure to take time to fix myself good food everyday (and not just shove down whatever I can find, and hope that what is quick and easy is also healthy).  I have never been a fan of supplements, preferring to get as much as I could through good eating, but hey, if my body is telling me I needed more then I REALLY needed to listen.

I started taking Floradix 3x a day (that stuff is not cheap) for iron, I took chlorophyll and/or alfalfa, my prenatals, probiotics 2x a day, Emergen C, Cod Liver Oil, Cal/Mag, Red Raspberry Tea, and after some research I felt that I may be deficient in Vit D so I started on that too.  My hope was that not only would it make me feel better (and it definitely did!!) but that it may make my body labor more efficiently (if perhaps that was way my contractions in the last 4 labors had been so sporadic).  

My EDD (based on ovulation) was Nov 12.  My last baby had come a week early.  My only other baby was 3 days early and most came after my EDD.  I usually tell myself that baby will come later, but after last time, I tried to prepare myself mentally for a baby anytime after 38 wks.  I still had some doubts and fears like my last 3 pregnancies, and as usual they are always worse at night (actually I was always fine and positive during the day, but night brought the doubts).  But I tried to focus more on myself and the family and with lots of prayer I found that though they were definitely present, they were not too bad.  

Much of my anxiety centered around how the birth would go (meaning, would it be long and hard etc) and that the baby was healthy.  I don’t do ultrasound unless there is something that would warrant it, so I don’t get that peek inside.  This baby was plenty active but not quite as active as my others so that was different.   I also felt that she was smaller.  I do my own prenatal care (this is the 5th pregnancy doing that) and I didn’t see Tierney at all till 39 weeks.  She palpated and listened and said all was well which I took great relief in. Everything seemed OK to me, but there is nothing like having someone who has ‘laid hands on’ hundreds of pregnant women telling you that everything feels good to make me feel better.   She also reminded me that my birth will be exactly what  my baby needs, and that I need to stop thinking or obsessing over it and to climb in the back seat and let God take the wheel . . . everything will be fine.  Those simple reminders gave me a greater sense of peace in the following 9 days before I went into labor.

Since I was due on Nov 12, and Thanksgiving being Nov 23 (and we travel 3 hrs to visit family) I knew I needed to go into labor somewhere before or shortly after my EDD or we would not be able to travel in for Thanksgiving with family.  So unlike other pregnancies where I was happy to go after my EDD, this time I was kind of hoping to go before.  In fact I started taking some borage oil around 38 ½ wks, not to induce labor (it doesn’t induce labor) but hoping that if there may be something holding up labor it would help prevent that.  Nov 12 came and went I pretty much prepared the kids for the fact that, unless I went into labor soon, we may not be going in for Thanksgiving.

Birth Story

On Nov 13, at about 2:30 in the afternoon, while I was showing Piper how to fry eggs, I had the wonderful sensation of something running down my leg . . . HA!!  It actually freaks you out for a second till you realize . . . oh wait, this is a good thing, LOL!!   No my water didn’t break but there was a fair amount of thin bloody show.  Actually I think I may have sprung a small leak, LOL!!   I stuck my head around the corner to tell Charlie that maybe we would make it in for Thanksgiving after all.  Most of my labors have started with bloody show like this.  It is kind of fun because it isn’t like you are having mild contractions and you are not sure if it is labor or not.  With bloody show (or your water breaking) there is no question that something is happening.   I wasn’t freaked out, a little anxious maybe and actually a bit excited too.  We just went about our day as usual, though I did finish up some things that needed to be done like putting some clothes away and stuff. 

The baby, like all my other babies, had been lying on my right side pretty consistently.  I recall that Dagyn had moved left in early labor and his was my shortest and easiest, so I was thinking that if I could get this baby on the left (best position to start labor) it may help things go faster.  Over the weeks I had done some spinning babies techniques to try to get her to the left, and she moved left a few times over the last few days (I know because I not only feel where she is, but I listen to her heartbeat with the fetoscope which tells me where she is) but she always moved back to the right again.  So I did some more of those along with some stretches, some pelvic rocks, crawling on the floor etc, just whatever felt right (funny what your instincts tell you to do) to try to help move the baby in the best position with the most room for the birth.   She never did move, she stayed on my right side the whole labor (I kept checking periodically until she was born) which seems pretty normal for me and worked out fine. 

 I had no contractions to speak of but I had bloody show all day, everytime I checked, and a few times I had a bit of liquid come out too, so I was pretty sure I was right in my suspicion that I had “sprung a leak”.  I ended up using some cloth pads and changing them on a fairly regular basis.   My body also did the wonderful thing it always does in early labor . . . cleaning itself out!!  UGH!  That always feels wonderful . . . going to the bathroom every ½ hr till you are sore . . . ya, fun times.  I thankfully had no nausea the whole labor, so eating wasn’t a problem that day (though the more you eat the more that needs to be cleaned out, ugh).  

 Mentally I was good, no freaking out, no real doubts or fear to speak of, but I did have anxiety about going through labor again.  It is more the not knowing how it will go.  I assume all will be well as it should be in a normal birth, I don’t like really worry much that we will end up at the hospital, or that I will hemorrhage or anything (though I am prepared for anything).  It is more stuff like . . .  will it be super long?  Will I have to push for a long time?  (I was praying for a short labor but especially short pushing) will I want to call anyone over?  Where I want to give birth?  Will the baby be OK?  What if she needs resuscitation?  So I kept the rescue remedy handy and took some a few times when I felt the anxiety start to rise.  It did help, and I recommend it for anyone in pregnancy and labor if you are feeling stressed, anxious, fearful, dwelling on things etc.  But I was excited too!  Unlike other times where I wasn’t ready to be in labor, this time I was ready and I was happy for labor to start.  It was a nice change for sure.  

Around 10 pm the crampy, though still mild, contractions started.  We are night owls and go to bed late so everyone was still up.  They  were spporatic, off and on, and around midnight or so we got the kids in bed.  I was lying in bed cuddling with Thrace (3) and nursing Dagyn (20mo) thinking about how this was the last time we would be lying here in this way.  The contractions came while in bed but I didn’t really have to concentrate on them, though I always practicing relaxing through them in preparation for the harder ones to come.

After the kids were asleep we got back up.  I cleaned up a bit and did some more pelvic rocks and stretches, listened to baby (still on the right) and went back to bed around 2.  I figured I would either get a few hours of sleep and be woken up by harder contractions or that things may stop and I could wake up rested in the morning with nothing going on.  Well neither of those happened.  The contractions started getting harder, hard enough that as I was lying in bed, I found myself naturally relaxing and breathing through them.  I would start to doze off and a contraction would come and wake me up.  This has happened several labors before and I find it super annoying!   Plus I was lying between 2 kids and I was thinking that should I need to get up and use the bathroom or something . . . well . . . being hugely pregnant and lying between 2 sleeping kids makes getting out of the bed very hard!!  So after a couple hours, at around 4:30, I decided to get up.

This is what I considered the start of active labor (and when timing my labors, I start them when the contractions get to the point where I can’t walk or talk, but rather I have to concentrate through them.  If timed my labors from the start of any and all contractions, then Pipers labor would have been 3 days instead of 10 hrs, LOL)

I left the bedroom and the house was dark and quiet.  I figured I’d turn on the TV to distract myself, but for some reason I didn’t.  I walked around a bit, went to the bathroom a few times had several contractions etc.  I drank some Red Raspberry  (ICK).  I was trying to figure out what I needed.  I was tired, so despite the fact that I hate lying down in labor I went to the sofa.   The living room was dark and the wood stove made it nice and warm, it was super cozy in there.  I put some more wood on the fire and then I lay on the sofa and tried to rest for about and hour.  When I couldn’t stand lying down anymore I got up.  It was a little after 6am.  

The contractions were getting progressively stronger and I did what I always do during contractions.  I stand, knees bent, leaning over (or bracing myself on) a counter or sofa or table etc and rock forward and backwards while completely relaxing my body and breathing.  As the contractions progress and get stronger my breathing gets deeper.  With the early active labor contractions I can keep my mouth closed and breath in and out through my nose.  But as they get stronger my breathing  progresses to open mouth sighs or mmm’s and then eventually moans.  It is very satisfying to feel the contractions progress and get stronger, knowing they are working.  I don’t need  (nor do I want) someone sticking their fingers up inside me, to learn some random number  (that ultimately means nothing) to give them (and me) a guess on how my labor is progressing.  I am experiencing it and I can feel it!!!  

Upon getting up from the sofa I was at the sighing point in labor, lots of Ahhh’s and stuff with contractions, they were getting stronger.  I never timed them really but I would guess them ranging from 5-15 min apart (further apart while lying down).

As I was making yet another trip to the bathroom I heard Dagyn wake up.  I had hoped he wouldn’t wake while I was in labor (some nights he does, some nights he doesn’t).  Charlie was in the bed and he is really good at getting Dagyn to sleep, but after like 10 min I could hear that, unfortunately, it wasn’t working.  I had tried a couple contractions while sitting on the toilet (which I didn’t like) and so I decided that I needed to suck it up and go in there and just nurse him back to sleep.   It wasn’t bad.  I nursed him for maybe 10-15 min.  I had a couple contractions that I was able to manage just fine.  I snuck away  around 6:30 

When I got up I noticed that the sun was starting to rise.  I had been wondering when it would.  I have had quite a few labors where I got to watch the sun rise.  It was a welcome sight.  The night is cozy, but I feel so much positivity during the day so I was happy to see a glimmer of light in the dark sky.  

My contractions were picking up now too again.  Despite the fact that parts of the house were cold (we only have the wood stove and some space heaters for heat and it was in the 30’s outside) I decided it was time to lose the pants!  I also put out some old towels.  Sometimes I use old towels, sometimes I use chux pads, but either way.  I set up towels in “stations” around the house. . . usually in the bathroom, at the dining room table, at the kitchen counter etc. So that wherever I am when a contraction hits I have a towel to stand over should I need to pee (and with stronger contractions I always pee before or after, and for the very strong contractions I will pee during).

I feel very encumbered with pants on in labor.  I need to be free to pee when needed, because I do that a lot.  I can’t keep my body completely relaxed if I am holding my bladder, and I need to keep my pelvic area relaxed to dilate and to be most comfortable.  I have naturally done this in every labor.  I know a lot of people may feel awkward about this, like it is gross or not very “lady like” but just a tip for people who will be giving birth in the future . . . it may involve blood and fluids, poop and pee and other things that people find objectionable in the day to day, but there is nothing more feminine than being pregnant and giving birth!  The ability to do this is what sets us apart and makes us unique.  The things that we may consider unpleasant about labor are really just a normal and natural part of an amazing event!!  And listening to our bodies and our instincts in labor is a uniquely feminine action.  Don’t rule anything out because it seems ‘gross’ to you or because you want to keep some dignity.  Let go!!  And let your body do what it needs to do without letting your “mind” interfere!!

OK, stepping down, LOL!! 

So, it was around 6.30 or so when I got up from nursing Dagyn.  The contractions were stronger and I was starting to have to moan through them, they also seemed to be coming closer together.  The times I looked they were around  5 min or so apart. They never got closer than that and some were spaced out more, but they were seemed a bit closer than in previous labors.  I still had plenty of time between.  I had all my towels in place around the house so I could walk around.  I was happy that the labor was progressing regularly. 
Things were getting a bit blury at this point.  I had a hard time keeping track of time.  I was so tired I felt almost like a zombie, like I was delirious.  I was trying to walk around despite the fact that even walking was getting difficult, there was like a constant cramp in my lower belly.  I was standing and moaning through the contractions but I knew I needed to rest more, I was just SO sleepy, like pacing around saying “I’m so tired, I’m just so tired”.   So I took a towel and went back into the warm living room (that was still pretty dark) and I knelt on the floor and just flopped my upper body on the sofa.  Not sure how long before the next contraction came but I want to think I was lying there and fell asleep for 10-20 min.  Then the next contraction came and it did NOT feel good down on my knees (I need to stand ugh).  I rested through to another contraction and then I got back up.  I was still tired, but that bit of rest did help, I mean at least I could stand without feeling like I was going to collapse.  

The next couple hours I just did all the normal things I do in labor, pacing around, moving from towel to towel during contractions, going to the bathroom (yes, I was still going) talking to baby, talking to God, taking some rescue remedy if I felt anxious, checking baby’s position etc.  I was still extremely tired and it was cold!!  I would have a contraction at the kitchen counter then walk to the wood stove to warm up, then go back to the kitchen for another contraction, or I would move from the bathroom to the tower heater in the hallway.  Surprisingly though I didn’t get very shaky, usually I have the shakes at some point in labor but not so much this time. 
I had no worries or doubts at this point, usually once labor gets going those melt away. The baby was beautiful.  I always pray that the baby moves a lot during labor.  She was moving a lot during the contractions (which doesn’t feel great . . . nice baby head grinding on your cervix) but not between.  It was like she was working when I was working, and then taking time to rest.  Usually I will at some point listen to the heartbeat because I want to make sure baby was OK, but I had no doubts that she was OK, and the only times I listened were mostly to check her position.

The sun was up and it looked to be a beautiful day.  The sun brought some renewed strength to get me through the 4 hours of intense contractions.  There was almost a persistent cramp in my belly which was manageable, but annoying.  The contractions were hard, as the peak would come I’d have to crank my head back and open my mouth wider (sometimes as wide as I could go) with a low moan that matched the intensity of the contraction.  At some points I didn’t think I could moan any louder or longer!  I started to feel the intensity radiate into my back and legs during the peak, leaving my legs aching and I knew they were getting stronger and doing their job!!  They were tough, but not terribly painful  . . . the “sense” of pain was there, just under the surface, and maybe some people would describe it as pain, but don’t feel it that way.  It just feels very intense and powerful.  If I was made to lie on my back, unable to be upright and vocalize and pee or whatever I need to do to keep relaxed, I can see where the pain would be horrible.
I had wanted to get some video of me laboring like this, I had been planning on it, but when asked about it I was very indecisive (as I get when in the depths of labor) so I never did.

I heard the bedroom door open at around 8:30- 9 as Charlie woke up and came out.  I was relieved to see him as I was ready for some company.  I informed him that my friend Sam was coming over, which he was fine with.  Ideally, in a perfect situation, I think I like just the family here for the birth.  We have done it that way 3 times (with babies 3, 4 and 5) and it worked out great.  But I have more kids now (and the younger ones are younger than in past births) and it was nice to have extra help with the kids and cleaning last time when my mother in law was here.  And though the older kids are wonderful with the little ones and can do pictures and video etc, I also need a lot of help after the birth (someone getting me things like herbs, helping me get up and to a bed or bathroom or whatever, helping to clean me up, getting things for the baby, a bowl for the placenta, just things like that).  I had decided that unless I birthed in the middle of the night, I’d probably go ahead and have a friend come to help out.  I am SO glad I called her too.  She was a great help!! And if it wasn’t for her taking the initiative to turn on the video camera for the exact contraction where the baby was born (we had no clue she would be born that soon) then we would not have had a video of the birth!!

I filled Charlie in on what had been going on with the labor and he brought me one of his large shirts that would be warmer and cover more of my body so my butt wasn’t hanging out for all to see!!  I continued to labor with increasingly stronger contractions, a few of the kids got up but I hardly noticed.  Sam arrived a bit after 10am.  I told her what was going on, how I usually like do to things, that I will need some counter pressure during pushing and that she and Charlie could take turns if they wanted (usually Charlie does it all). 

Around 10:30 the contractions started to change.   Having experienced this many times I know this change and I was anxiously awaiting it.  At the peak, my moan stops with a catch in my throat as my body starts to push involuntary.  I usually have several contractions like this before they turn into all out pushing contractions.  I was relieved to experience it because I had been having very intense contractions for 4 hours and I had been praying that it wouldn’t go on all day like this as it had with Thrace’s (#5) birth (with my last birth I only had a handful of super intense contractions before they started to transform to pushing).   I also felt the familiar intense back pain that accompanies pushing, ugh!  By 10:45 the contractions had transformed to full on pushing.  I was standing at the kitchen counter and we discussed whether or not to fill up the birth pool.  We could put it in the living room next to the woodstove where it was nice and warm with the sun shining in.  It was just sitting right there ready to be blown up.  But though I loved and used it with my first 4 births, as with the 2 previous labors the thought of getting in made me feel almost claustrophobic.  And going to the trouble of blowing it up and filling it seemed too much.

I had thought that I may like to push standing up, with Charlie doing the double hip squeeze to relieve back pain and also help open the pelvis. So for the first few pushing contractions I stood at the counter with first Sam, then Charlie doing the hip squeeze.  But it didn’t feel right.  It brought a lot of red bloody show but I had a hard time relaxing my pelvic floor and frankly, I was just exhausted and felt that I was no good pushing at this point!

It's a bit fuzzy, but early pushing. 
 I have read in the past from “birth experts” that if you don’t push, but instead breathe and let your body do the work to bring the baby down, then when your body finally forces you to push with it it’s very short.  I always laugh at this because frankly, I don’t voluntarily push.  I mean it is not like I am “oh goodie, my body is pushing let me push with it!!”   If I could just “breathe” and let my body do the work I would, because I hate pushing!!  I’ve tried, doesn’t work!!  My body does and I can’t stop it!  It is like I’m just along for the ride and I have no choice in the matter!  Bu I discovered something  in my last 2 labors. I found that if I move onto my back, it decreases the strength of the contractions enough where I can actually breathe and prevent my body for pushing.  It also provides the counter pressure I need for the back pain. Of course everything in my being (my instincts and my logical brain) tell me to avoid lying on my back!  I have NEVER wanted to be on my back in any labor!  But at this point, despite the fact that my impatience wanted to push and get this thing done!!!   I felt like I needed to rest to gain the strength to push my baby into the world, and I knew  that my best chance for that was to get into the tub and lie back and just try to breathe through the contractions.  

So I asked Charlie to get me a black tank top (having learned from my last birth where I  looked like I was entering a wet t-shirt contest) and I started filling the tub.  Our water pressure is not great and it takes a while for the tub to fill.  I had a contraction or 2 where I used the bathroom door frame for counter pressure, and once a few inches were in the tub I got in.  It was 11am.  It felt really good!! (especially since the bathroom was a cooler spot in the house).   When the water got higher I laid back and tried to relax.  I am usually eager to push and get the baby out but this just felt right, I needed to rest.

Time stopped.  I the contractions came, I felt my body lightly pushing but I was able to relax and breathe through it.  I felt pressure, I continued to have bloody show and back pain, but I was amazingly able to resist pushing.  And there I lay, for an hour and ½.  I never would have guessed it was that long!  it didn’t feel that long!  The contractions spaced out like they do when pushing, and I am sure the position and the water caused them to space out more.   I knew what was going on, I could hear everything in the house, I could hear the kids running by the room and playing, I could hear Charlie doing stuff for them, peeking his head in occasionally to check in on me.  Sam sat by me doing stuff on her phone.  I am not sure that I slept, or maybe I did some.   I just rested.  I doubt anyone watching would have even known I was in labor unless they looked closer and listened.  I was completely quiet with eyes closed, occasionally my breathing would increase as the contraction came but that is all.  It was peaceful!  I would occasionally open my eyes or turn the water on with my foot to make it warmer etc.  The baby was quiet and resting too.  I would occasionally nudge my belly and she would respond.  I never worried about her.  It was weird to spend so long not pushing, I almost felt like I was denying my body the ability to push, but I just felt this was the right thing to do.

And then in a moment, clear as day as if I was speaking it out loud I heard the words “OK I’m ready” and my eyes popped wide opened!!   My heart started racing because I knew I was rested and that it was time to work  (You know, the hard work of pushing that I HATE!!) and I tried my best to relax.  But my body was telling me it was time.  I just prayed, asked God for strength, asked Him to make it quick asked for peace.   So at 12:38 I switched positions, moving to my side, knowing that it would cause the contractions to increase in intensity.  I had a few contractions, very spaced out, in this position.  Sam was watching.  With the first big one I grabbed my leg, pulled it up, I breathed for as long as I could and then pushed when I couldn’t hold off any longer . . . groaning as I do when I push like that, I just went with it!  I was surprised at how much the pushes were doing!  Sam said she could see the shape of my belly changing as the baby got lower.  And there was a lot of pressure and a lot of blood show.   I felt inside and touched my baby for the first time.  I could feel her head about 2 inches inside.  Several minutes later another contraction came and I pushed again the same way, more pressure, more show, more movement from baby.  When it was over I reach inside and felt the baby’s head about 1”.  Sam commented that with contractions so far apart, no wonder it takes a long time to push because it gives baby plenty of time to move back up.  To which I agreed, but my body has always done this, even with my first.  
Resting on my side between pushing
After pushing on my side through those few contractions it wasn’t feeling right either.  I didn’t like the position like I did last time.  I couldn’t get good counter pressure on my back with the back of the tub like I did last time and I just felt like I needed to be upright.  So at 12.59 (thanks Sam for noting these times) I got up and leaned over the side of the tub.  Our tub is fairly deep but not super wide.  It worked but only my very lower belly was in the water.  I asked Sam to squeeze my hips while I pushed.  I got another contraction and pushed with it . . . more pressure, more show.  Charlie was there and I asked him to push on my hips with the next contraction.  He is strong and pushes really hard and it feels so good!  I believe Sam asked if I wanted her to video and I said . . . whatever she wanted to do.  Charlie couldn’t find the little tripod for our camera so it was just lying on the counter.  I didn’t know how much longer it would be so in my head I was thinking it was a waste of time but hey, if she wanted to go for it!

As the next contraction came I called Charlie over and unbeknownst to me Sam turned on the video camera for the first time.  The push started like any other, a wave, my body pushing and me just going with it.  As it subsided another wave came, I could tell this one was stronger.  In an effort to “ground” myself better I wrapped my arm around Charlies leg (something I have always done as the pushing gets super intense) and went with it.  The pressure was intense, that familiar feeling of my perineum being filled with baby, I knew this was really doing something!!   In a moment I felt my water break with great force.  Immediately, another breath, another wave, and the burning, opening, familiar feeling that my body was being pulled away from itself down where my body was being filled with emerging baby, and I hung on to Charlies leg for dear life as I groaned and pushed with everything I had!!  The head was coming out but I felt as though the contraction was fading.  I have learned through experience that if I have the head partly out, I will NOT let it go . . . so another breath and I kept pushing with all I had!!  With that the contraction seemed to pick up in intensity and I groaned “head” as I pushed her head completely out!! (I had been joking just minutes before that I would announce "head" when the baby's head was out, but I said it with the accent used from the movie "So I Married an Ax Murderer".  If you've seen the movie you know what I'm talking about, LOL).  Ahhhh,  It is always such a relief to get that head out!!  I said “heads out”!!  Charlie had a good view this time and announced it as well as Sam was calling the kids to come in so they wouldn’t miss it (some of them made it).   I paused to take a breath, assuming I would get a break and push her body out in the next contraction, as had happened with all 6 previous births!  But my break was short lived as my body started pushing again and I could do nothing to stop it.  Clinging to charlies legs (him still squeezing my hips) I groaned and pushed the rest of her body into the tub!! (see a video of this HERE)

Ahhh, relief!!  Charlie usually doesn’t get to see what is going on, but he got an exceptional view this time.   He saw everything.  He could  even see the fluid exiting her mouth and nose as her body was squeezed through the perineum, something I wish I could see!!   And he seemed a bit disturbed that I had just pushed her into the tub and she was just floating there (and hopefully her head had not hit the bottom as she came out).

As her body emerged I announced “body’s out”  and glanced around to see who was in the room.  I left her in the water a few seconds in hopes that more kids would get a view before I lifted her up.  I sat back in the tub and talked to her as she sputtered and took a breath!!  I looked her over, she was beautiful, and perfectly pink!  I didn’t notice her being smaller than my other babies (though she was).  I immediately remembered to check for gender and reached down to feel, then looked, and with surprise and joy I announced that she was a girl!!!  I wish I would have thought to look at the kids faces!  She was screaming and shaking a lot like she was cold.  Most of my babies will fuss a bit and then get quiet and look around.  She was very fussy off and on so we didn’t have that moment of peace staring into each others eyes, and I didn’t get to interact with the kids as much as I normally do because I was distracted. 

There was a lot of excitement in the room.  I was able to ask Dagyn what he thought and he had a very ‘unsure’ look on his face.  Usually my youngest is the first to come close to check out the baby but he wasn’t so sure, LOL!!  It only took a few minutes though for him to warm up to her and get up in her face!!  
I heard everything everyone said but I only responded to some of it.  I was explaining to Charlie today that when he or the kids or whoever asks a question, it isn’t that I don’t hear them and I’m not ignoring them.  It is like I am almost high and I respond in my head but I often don’t realize that I haven’t responded out loud, LOL!!

Moments after birth
 I tried holding her down in the water as much as possible to warm her up, but she continued to shake and fuss.  She had periods of calm, like when I put her to the breast, but they didn’t last long.  I needed to wrap her up but I didn’t want to get out of the tub yet  because I have a lot of bleeding when my placenta detaches and I wanted to wait for that to happen in the tub for easier clean up.  My placenta detached after 10-15 min with a couple familiar gushes of blood.  Charlie put some chux pads on the bed (I had to tell him where everything was because, as usual, I had neglected to set the birth supplies out, LOL).  He helped me out of the tub, Sam put a towel around us and set up some pillows and I sat on the bed and waited for the placenta.  She seemed happy to be out of the water and we got a warm fuzzy blanket for her.   I put her to the breast and while she seemed happy there she made little effort to suck.  I think it was a few hours before she really latched on.  She seemed wiped out!!

Right before getting out, the water is red with blood from when my placenta detached
 My sister Kim seems to know exactly the right time to call because I heard the phone ring and sure enough, it was her (this was not the first time she had called minutes after I pushed a baby out).  So I answered (because I like to surprise them) and we talked for a few minutes but I had to stop as the placenta was ready to come.

The placenta came probably about ½ hr after the birth.  My body doesn’t seem to have very strong afterbirth contractions so it isn’t unusual for me for the placenta to need some help (unless I am standing up, which I was a bit shakey for at that moment).  It was right at the perineum so I gently pulled on the cord a bit while pushing.  It is always a bit tricky because the baby is still attached to the placenta and her cord wasn’t super long (18”).  It wasn’t coming easily so I shifted position and pushed and it came out on it’s own.  However there were still membranes inside so I had to very carefully and gently work them out with gentle pulling while pushing.  Ultimately the whole thing came out intact!!  And Charlie and Sam were there to help me get cleaned up and comfortable.

I sat back to relax.  They covered me up with some towels and we brought an extra heater in the room (like the baby, I was cold and shaky too).  We determined (the 3 of us) that my blood loss looked pretty normal (at least for me) and I felt great and began to make my plethora of phone calls.

I called Tierney first (made sure to wait till after the placenta, because her first question is always whether or not the placenta is out and if it isn’t she has me call after it is, LOL).  I got her machine and left her a very detailed message and then texted her. She called back in a few minutes and “fussed” at me for not telling her I was in labor!  Ha!  In my defense, I did give her a heads up when I saw bloody show.  But labor picked up in the middle of the night, and that is when I usually call her.  By the time morning came the contractions were close enough and intense enough that the thought of talking to anyone on the phone didn’t appeal to me.  So calling never crossed my mind.

She had some appointments and said she was going to finish up at the birth center (she has a birth center and homebirth practice)  and then head over, she was an hour away.

I then proceeded to call family, post pics on facebook, nurse, and comfort a sometimes screaming baby . . . oh and eat and drink and force myself to get up and pee a couple times (because that is important) over the next several hours.  I was shaky so I did take a couple doses of Shephards Purse for bleeding just in case.  I also took some 200C Arnica which I usually take after birth for any swelling and trauma.  It was all very familiar, having been through the process 6 times before (and this being our 5 time doing it unassisted) but while the process is familiar, the feelings are just like it was the first time.  It always feels like a dream, so surreal and I love those moments and feelings in the hours after birth.

At around 4 hours I decided it was time to cut the cord. But I needed photos of her with her placenta first.  So we tried to warm up the room.  I handed her to Piper who was the first kid to get to hold her!  (usually I would have given them a chance before now but she was very sensitive and particular and I didn’t want to do anything that would upset her more).  My friend Jennifer arrived and helped with pictures (thankfully as my phone battery died) and video.  She also warmed up some blankets and had the great idea of warming up a rice sock to keep Illyria warm so she wouldn’t be too fussy while unwrapped for pictures.  Tierney and her assistant (who was wonderful and took lots of pics for us) showed up at about 5 hour postpartum as we were about to cut the cord.  I knew it would be easier for her to weight and measure without her being attached to the placenta.   Being the only girl Piper had the honors of doing the cutting.

 I usually don’t clamp the cord because I cut so late it doesn’t need it.  But her cord was bleeding a bit more than the others (usually there is just a few drops of blood) so we got some yarn to tie it off.

Tierney proceeded with the weighing and measuring.  She was 7lb 2oz, a full pound smaller than most of my others!  Still long though at 20” considering her weight.  But even that is an inch smaller than my smallest (my others were 21-23”).  Her head and chest were 13 ½”.  So her head was ¼” smaller than my smallest head previously (though most of their heads were 14”).  Illyria didn’t scream as much as I thought she may during the exam but Tierney was a little concerned about her shaking, which she said seemed more like tremors.  She just told me to keep an eye on it.  Illyria had a rough first 36 hrs, she was very fussy and shaking a lot (mostly when she was awake and screaming) and I got little sleep the first night. But then, like magic, she then turned into “normal newborn” and settled down a lot.  The shaking for the most part subsided.  I think she just had a hard transition and her body needed time to adjust.  I had wanted to do more skin to skin but she definitely seemed more content when she was dressed.

My friend Tierney, who has been there to support me through my 5 UC's
 Tierney stayed and talked for a while, Charlie made homemade pizzas for everyone, and then everyone left and we settled in, getting everyone ready for bed for our first night as a family of 9!!

My thoughts on the birth 

I am grateful for answered prayers!!  I had prayed for a short labor and short pushing.  And I find it interesting how God chose to answer my prayers.  I prayed mostly for the shorter pushing, envisioning my pushing phase starting and my body pushing uncontrollably and just pushing a baby out in a few pushes.  And it didn’t happen like that at all!!  My entire pushing phase was as long as it had been in many of my previous births (2 hrs) but the actual time I spent pushing (a few contractions in the beginning before I rested, then only like 4-5 contractions in the end) was SO much shorter!  It is like He answered my prayer, not in the way I envisioned, but in the way it needed to be.  And I it was perfect!

Sam secretly thought I would be pushing for another hour and I know Charlie was super surprised, having been through it with me so many times before and usually spending so much time providing counter pressure!  It was wonderful!!  In fact when looking back on my labor I usually have such negative thoughts and feelings about pushing, and especially pushing the baby out!  All I can think about and all I remember  is how the feeling of the baby exiting your body feels like shoving a load of concrete through you . . . that pain is too simple a word to describe it.   Well, OK, I definitely do still feel that way because it is totally true, LOL!!  (it is NOT fun)  But when I look back on that part of the birth this time, days after this particular birth, I don’t automatically think how much I hated that part, I think . . . eh, it wasn’t bad at all!!  I think that when you are pushing for hours, the build up only makes the climax that much more intense.  But this time the build up was peaceful with me resting.  There wasn’t the discouragement and frustration that it was taking so long, there was mostly just patience and peace.  And then when I finally did get to work each contraction and push was doing something, it was productive and that made the whole experience so much more satisfying!

Of course I don’t mind pushing out a smaller head and baby, but I do kind of wish she was a ‘normal’ size for me, you know like around 8lbs with a 14” head.  If I would have pushed her out so easily at that size then I would know that the reason why it went so well was because of how I did it and how the labor went,  maybe my contractions were more effective or the double hip squeeze worked to make more room . . . instead of wondering if it wasn’t because her head was a little smaller.  But hey, I’ll take what I got!!

The labor itself was a bit more intense than my last one, and a little longer.  My last was 7 hrs total, this one was 8 ½. But they are both so much shorter than some of my labors previous (20+ hrs) so I am thrilled with that!!   And considering my spaced out contractions, all of my labors would be considerably shorter, probably ½ the length or less if my contractions were closer together as most people’s labors are.  No complaints, no regrets, nothing to sit back and dwell on after the birth.  I could totally do that again . . . oh wait, I have already done it 7 times, LOL!!  Wow!

Regardless, I would say that this was my ‘easiest’ (funny word to use because labor definitely isn’t easy) to date, and probably the most enjoyable, and the pushing experience played a large part in that.  When you are going through it, you have the hormones rushing through you and you are in “the zone” and doing what needs to be done and it is intense, and overwhelming, it is emotional and exhausting and a million different feelings and experiences happening at once.  But looking back on it, I always feel like labor is no big deal.  One day I am pregnant, I go into labor, I push out a baby, we  go to bed.   No biggy, LOL!!  The kids certainly run around the house playing like it is a normal day (they are so used to it, LOL). And it is so surreal that it is hard to believe that I am lying here again with another precious newborn by my side.  It is like it’s  too good to be true!

And I’ll say again what I have say every time . . . it never gets old!  There may be some familiarities, but each newborn is like the first time!! There is nothing routine about it.  The feelings, the soft skin, the smell, the sweet noises ahhhhhh.  My gosh there is nothing like it.  Lying in bed that first night gazing into that sweet little face, holding that little hand and drifting off to sleep, it is like bliss (though she was fussy her first night, so we experienced that the 2nd night ;0) it is like a dream.  And each time I wonder . . . who am I to be so blessed?  What have I done to deserve to experience this again?  Nothing . . . I certainly don’t deserve it.  But I will take it and cherish every moment of it!!

And to have another beautiful, healthy baby . . . and a girl this time!!  And a normal, healthy, straight forward, peaceful and gentle birth . . . exactly the way God designed it to work and exactly what we needed and what I wanted.  I simply couldn’t have asked for anything more!  I am in awe of Gods miracle of life, of His design of birth and of His entrusting me with another precious soul.  And I am, as always, humbled and grateful  and so thankful for His faithfulness!

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness;  his mercies begin afresh each morning”  Lamentations 3:22-23

New family of 9!!


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