When I met Emma & Kent back in December, I knew that their home was going to be a magical place to deliver their first child. When they purchased the house last year, Emma envisioned having a beautiful home birth here someday, just as her mother had done with her 30 years prior. Now that they were expecting, she had the most beautiful room set up for the arrival of their son.
On the evening of March 9th, I arrived along with her midwife, Jessica from Roots of Life - there was snow in the forecast and with both of us an hour away we decided it would be better to get there before the storm hit. After a quick vital check, we gave mama space with her birth team (papa & her mom).
Emma has written her birth story beautifully and I am honored to be able to share it with you below.
To my Dearest Clyde,
It all began at around 5AM on Saturday, March 9th, when I awoke to noticeable contractions. I then woke your Papa and we discussed how this was feeling in comparison to the nights before, which were more like menstrual aches. Earlier in the week that Thursday, I had lost my mucus plug and then on Friday we met with the midwife for our prenatal visit. During that visit I remember speaking to her about how to get into the right mindset, considering you could come any day now or two weeks from then. As we discuss below, you came in due time. Papa and I thought this might be early labor based on the intensity and frequency of the contractions. Early labor lasted around 14 hours total which we spent documenting the contractions, drinking lots of water, eating nourishing snacks and listening to music. It was helpful that we also passed the time by taking our dogs for a walk, watching the KU basketball game and listening Jim Gaffigan, a comedian that always makes me laugh. It was a sign to me that it was still early labor because I could laugh through the contractions.
The surges of energy continued in my lower back and the bottom of my uterus. Throughout the day we documented how often you moved and when I felt the most intense contractions/surges thus far. As the surges began to elevate, your Papa was in contact with the midwife, sharing our progress. It was determined that she would arrive that evening as the tempo of surges increased. Your Papa and I labored through the night as the birth team helped to support and give us space. The team consisted of the midwife and eventually her assistant, your Oma (my mother), and the birth photographer. To help move labor along and manage my surges, we walked the stairs and utilized the heat of the shower. We also spent time in the birthing tub, it was comforting but we both were so tired from a long day of labor that we kept nodding off. We also tried other positions and activities like walking throughout the house, climbing the stairs, sitting on the toilet, as well as using the bed to lean on the birthing ball.
As labor increased and transitioned to active labor, we also listened to our hypnobabies tracks, attempted to rest between surges, utilized a heated rice sock on my back, used the rebozo cloth to sift my lower back and belly to relieve the energy, massaged my feet, and massaging my back by moving the energy down from my lower back to my feet. This lasted for about 16 hours, so I utilized breathing techniques to breath the energy out of my body and keep my mouth open and loose. Many times we found ourselves moving positions and leaning over to cope with the elevated energy from my surges. I cried once not from the intensity of the surges but out of frustration because of the vague timeline of labor. Throughout the process of labor the midwife was always nearby observing but never intruding. Her patience, trust, and wisdom were vital in allowing our labor to continue to progress at it’s necessary pace. I received two vaginal exams over the 16 hour active labor period and at each I was around 5 cm. This came as both frustrating and motivational, we discussed that my belly shape protruded quite a bit and that you (baby) may need more help getting down lower in my pelvis. To help reposition you, we utilized the rebozo cloth to hug you up and into my body. During this phase of my laboring I became vocal, trying to express the energy out of my body through my lungs and mouth. Our bigger dog Bo kept nearby and seemed to be interested, while our smaller dog Bella, didn’t seem interested whatsoever. We were very curious how they would react during the labor process and interestingly enough their roles seemed to shift later on.
By 11AM the next morning, we progressed through labor with the midwife often checking your heartbeat with her fetal monitor as well as checking in with me. As I sat in a rocking chair, attempting to rest between a surge, all of a sudden I felt and heard a large GA-GUSH! I exclaimed “My Water!” Everyone around thought I needed water and jumped to grab me a glass, but I clarified that my water had broke. The midwife informed me that things would possibly become more intense from here on out. She suggested we go and utilize the shower again to cope with the coming intensity. The dress I was wearing was now soaked with the amniotic fluid. While in the upstairs shower, I became very vocal and from then (11AM) until your birth (2PM) the energy was so intense, I didn’t know what to do with it. Earlier on, I could breathe through it and release that energy, but this lower uterus and back energy was big. As I progressed through the labor, my mind initially went to thinking that I was on an endless merry-go round, just continuing to cycle with no end in sight, but then I reminded myself that I was on a mountain headed to a summit. Your Oma (my mother) put on some very centering and instrumental music that helped me through the surges. I tried to harness it and focus on using it in my body as you moved through my pelvis.
I began to feel my pelvis expanding and wasn’t really sure if I should be “pushing” but it felt like things were progressing in that direction. Your Papa was a huge support as I leveraged him when I breathed and “pushed”. The feelings were intense and I rode the waves of energy slowly moving from standing, to leaning, and eventually to kneeling. I gripped your Papa’s forearms and squeezed as the energy passed. This was so intense and so exhausting. Eventually the midwife suggested I get on the bed, as I was on all fours on the hardwoods floor with a large amount of fluid around me. At this point, our bigger dog Bo had moved to snoring at the foot of the bed. Our smaller dog Bella, was now in the doorway listening intently but keeping her distance. I was primarily on all fours as I moved through the pushing surges for about 35 minutes. I felt very constipated through this transition and pushing phase, my body released a good amount of reddish fluid and eventually bowel movements. The midwife was supportive in reassuring me this was normal and provided support in cleaning all of the fluids up as we progressed. I let my body tell me how and when to push. At first it felt foreign and unsure, but as I continued I let my body take over and lead the way. As I pushed and breathed, eventually the midwife asked “ Do you want to feel your baby's head?” I was so happy to hear that you were that close, I now had sight of the finish line. I reached down and felt the top of your head! What a motivation to meet you and a light at the end of this 33 hour tunnel. With these last pushes, I did feel the ring of fire as my body stretched to move your head through. I knew I just needed to get your head out and your body would follow!
Finally through breathing and pushing you came out! What a relief! The midwife passed you up underneath of me to your Papa and I. I exclaimed “ It’s a boy!” as you proceeded to pee. After a long labor of love you were born at 2:04 PM on Sunday March 10th, the day before your due date. It had been snowing big fluffy snowflakes throughout the day, but I was so focused on meeting you that I never had a chance to even look out the window. The midwife and her assistant checked you out and made sure to help you get the fluid from your mouth that you picked up on the way out. You cried to help get the rest out. I explored your beautiful body and rubbed the vernix that was all over your body into your skin. Your Papa and I got you into a blanket and hat as you rested on my belly and we held your hands. We gazed into your eyes with amazement. As time went on, the midwives refocused on me to make sure the placenta came out as it should. After just a few pushes and it came out intact, it was a gorgeous umbilical cord and placenta. Once all the blood from the placenta was transferred to you, it was time to cut the cord, your Papa did the honors. Then it was time to weigh and measure you. As the midwife assistant did that, the head midwife stitched up my third degree perineal tear. Your Papa comforted me as we gazed at you being weighed next to us. You had a long journey out, so you were ready to rest. The midwife team made sure that all was well and cleaned up before they headed out. We were so grateful to be able to settle into our comfortable home already.
The following weeks, we made sure to take it easy as we transitioned into our new little family. The midwife came to the house to check in with all three of us both physically and mentally. Making sure I was healing and you were growing! In order for you to grow we tackled the new task of breastfeeding, which was a group effort. You learning to latch, me learning to help you latch, Papa, Oma, the midwife, and postpartum doula providing unwavering insights and emotional support. In order for me to heal, I ate nourishing foods, drank lots of water, moved with postpartum grace and took in all the Clyde snuggles I could. Your Papa and I felt very supported by Oma, the midwife, the postpartum doula, and close friends. This was vital, because then we could make sure to focus the majority of our energy on you! We took the next 6 weeks to learning your cues and attempting to address your needs. We transitioned every week into more confident roles as you continued to grow. You have given us one of the most beautiful roles of our lives, parenthood. What a journey we have been on to get here and what beautiful horizons we have ahead of us, Love, Mama
Midwife: Jessica, Roots of Life
Midwife Assistand: Jennifer, Lionheart Midwifery
Photography: White Wave Photography
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