Seren’s Birth Story

Seren’s Perfect Home Birth

Born May 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm

7 lbs 10 oz, 13.5 inch head circumference , 20 inches long

I think I knew I was going to be going into labor on Saturday night (May 22).  I had just spent Friday and Saturday at the Colorado Midwives Association conference listening to the legendary Ina May Gaskin and when I got home I just felt like I needed to get the house ready.  I was sort of irritable, flying around putting laundry away, etc.  Kyle said, “Just do it tomorrow” but somehow I knew I should do it then.  I had some sporadic contractions all Saturday evening (about 5-10 minutes apart but nothing serious), then had a glass of wine and went to bed.

I continued to be woken by contractions all night long, some of them even working their way into my dreams!  I had a dream we got pulled over by two cop cars for making an illegal U-turn.  I was in the driver’s seat but somehow Kyle was driving.  They asked me to step out of the car and I proceeded to have a contraction (in the dream and in real life) and squatted next to the car.  The cops sort of backed away and said “Umm, never mind!”

I woke up around 7 am with contractions that were about 10 minutes apart and 1.5 minutes long.  They were stronger than they had been and just weren’t going away.  At that point I was thinking that I was maybe 75% sure I was going into labor.  I got up to eat breakfast around 9 and as soon as I was upright they got a lot closer together (3-5 minutes) but still very manageable.  I tried to eat some cereal but was kind of nauseous and gave up.

Laboring in the bathtubKyle took care of the girls while I spent some time in a lavender bath my friend Ashley had gotten me.  They would slow down to about 10 minutes apart when I was laying down so I knew it was still early.  I decided to take advantage of it and get some rest while I still could.  I got out of the tub and laid down for about an hour.  Haven came in to join me and we cuddled with her rubbing my back during my “belly squeezes.”  It helped so much to see her sweet little face looking at me during the contractions!  I just kept thinking that I was about to have a sweet little girl just like the one in front of me.

I got up around 1:30 pm and Heather (one of my best friends) came over to hang out with Haven while Lyric took a nap and Kyle and I walked around the park by our house.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day!  Blue skies, warm but not hot, light breeze, perfect.  We had a leisurely time walking around and swaying during contractions and talking.  We definitely got some looks from neighbors!  The only down side was that there was only one port-a-potty in the park and with Seren’s head so low I had to pee all the time.  Whenever my bladder was full I’d have lots of contractions (about 2 minutes apart) which made walking to the potty really hard!  Not to mention the ones I would have in the port-a-potty…

Haven and I nappingStacie (my midwife) and Miranda (my friend and doula sister) kept telling me that I didn’t have to keep walking if I didn’t feel up to it but it felt so good to be out in the sunshine.  I even got a little bit of a sunburn during my labor which I think is fabulous!  We walked around for about two and a half hours, just making loops and walking with one foot on the curb when I could.  Sometimes we’d sit for a bit in the shade and update our birth team.  Heather was the only one at our house yet so we were letting Stacie, Miranda, Jessica (our other midwife), Diane (one of my best friends), and Ashley (my friend and photographer) know where things were at.  The contractions were (on average) 3 minutes apart while we were walking and sometimes spaced out to 5 minutes apart when we were sitting down, so I knew we were down to business but things were still early.

Back from the park

Back from the park

At about 4:30 pm I started to feel like we should head back to the house.  We got home and ordered some sandwiches from Jimmy John’s (the peppers were great until they weren’t).  I could feel something switching over in my mind and body, and I felt like I wanted to start turning inward and go inside myself.  I sat on the couch, Lyric in my lap, and breathed through some strong contractions.

Stacie came at 5:30 pm and I could feel things starting to move into active labor as I was rocking on the birth ball.  The contractions were getting much more intense, much harder to relax into, and I started feeling sort of shaky.  Stacie wanted to check me just once to try and figure out when to call Jessica, our second midwife.  Seren’s head was so low in my pelvis it was hard for her to feel behind it and all the way around my cervix, but she told me that I was safely 5 cm, if not 6 or 7.  This made me so happy!  I was so worried I’d be 2 cm and be disappointed.  I told myself I’d be satisfied with 4 cm and happy with 5 cm so this was perfect!

I decided I really wanted to get in the birth tub and I wanted Jessica and Miranda to come.  I wanted to give Jessica a lot of time since she was driving up from Colorado Springs just for us!  I think everyone got here exactly when they were meant to, even Ashley who flew in from Oklahoma at 6 pm and still made the birth!

Haven laboring with meI got into the tub and have seriously never felt anything so wonderful!!  The warm water washed over me relaxing all the muscles that I could relax and I felt like I could sink into the contractions so much easier!  I labored in the tub while Jessica, Diane, and Miranda made their way here.  Heather, Diane, and the kids played together outside and it was fun to hear their voices in the backyard.  I think it was a good distraction for Haven and Lyric to have some friends to play with them.  They came up periodically.  Haven was particularly interested and wanted to hold me through some “belly squeezes.”  Lyric came up and saw me have a contraction on the toilet and looked a little concerned, but when she saw everyone’s smiling faces (including mine) she seemed reassured.

Birth teamI stayed in the tub most of the time, leaning on Kyle and moaning through contractions.  Miranda was rubbing my back, and Stacie and Jessica would wipe my forehead and hold my hand if I needed them to.  Everyone was perfectly in sync and were exactly what I needed!  If one of them had to leave the room for something it felt like there was a definite void.  The contractions were getting more intense and taking on a different quality.  The contraction itself felt mostly muscular, but during the peak they started to take on a skeletal quality as well.  I just felt like my whole pelvis felt sort of achy.  This was different than my births with Haven and Lyric.

Kyle and IIt turns out that this was because Seren was facing sunny side up.  For those of you who don’t know, most babies come out OA (occiput anterior, or facing mom’s back).  If a baby is OP (occiput posterior, or facing mom’s front) there is usually a greater surface area to the head and the back of the head pushes into mom’s sacrum causing what’s called “back labor.”  Because I was carrying Seren totally different than Haven and Lyric (Seren’s back was always on the right, the girls were always on the left) this was my number one fear!  I’ve been at births with women experiencing back labor that described it like an axe embedded in their back, even in between contractions. It can also cause a lot of false starts to labor, long labors, long pushing stages, etc.

I didn’t want this to happen to me!  The completely ironic thing was that I never had back labor.  Besides the sort of aching in my pelvis it was completely normal!  Not only that but it was by far my fastest birth!  Apparently I have one of those pelvises that can accommodate an OP baby.

Around 8 pm things started to get really intense.  The contractions were coming about every 3 minutes and it was getting more and more difficult to relax through them.  In between, however, I was really able to relax and be present and happy about my baby being born that day.  I asked to have some music played (Heart Sutra: Bliss and Serenity) and it just made me cry!  It was the music that was playing at our wedding and at Lyric’s birth, and it made me think of when my last sweet baby was born.

Getting more difficultI was starting to think that this intensity was going to last forever.  I had only been checked once (I had GBS, group B strep, in my urine and everyone agreed on keeping vaginal exams to a minimum) and I had no idea how close I was to giving birth.  I also had never lost any of my mucous plug or had any bloody show, the usual signs that you’re getting closer.  I was starting to think I couldn’t do it.  Jessica said, “Don’t worry, she’s just packing up her womb” which made me laugh.

And then everything happened at once, LITERALLY!  I felt a huge gush as my water broke like a torrent.  I immediately started projectile vomiting (on Kyle, sorry babe!), and as soon as that subsided I felt her stretching my perineum.  I shouted, “She’s coming NOW, go get Haven!” and that was all I could muster before my body took over and started to bear down.  It was the most amazing, crazy, beautiful, frightening thing I’ve ever felt!  Haven’s pushing and birth had been very coached (first baby, epidural) and even though I waited for a while with Lyric I never had that urge to push.  This was completely different.  My body took over and it was like I was hanging on by my fingernails!  Jessica told me later, “It’s like throwing up except it’s throwing down,” which is exactly how it felt!  I’d never realized how strong the fetal ejection reflex is.

She's born!Kyle jumped in the tub to catch Seren like we planned (in his clothes, there was no time to put on a swimsuit) and Haven did as well.  A few minutes later Seren’s head was born, it whipped around like a corkscrew, then shoulders, and then she was out.  I couldn’t believe how aware I was of every sensation.  I could feel every contour of her body as she came out and there was such a relief once she was out.  I had really wanted not to tear with this one like I did with the others and had told everyone prenatally that I wanted reminders to go slowly, stretch, breathe her out, etc.  Now everything was happening so fast that I felt like my my mind was telling my body “Slowly, breathe!” and my body was saying, “Nope, here we go, out she comes!”  Even so, Stacie told me later that my body eased her out beautifully, that it took breaks when it should have to let her rotate, that I stretched wonderfully, etc.  In fact I didn’t need stitches after all!  I only had a “skid mark” that would heal if I rested enough postpartum.

FamilyFrom my water breaking to Seren coming out was just 6 MINUTES!  At this point Lyric was upstairs as well.  We had tried to get her up here for the birth but everything happened so fast there just wasn’t a good opportunity.  She jumped in the tub with us and started blowing bubbles in the birth water (oh well)!  The girls took turns smooching Seren’s head and Lyric kept pointing to her saying “Baby, nursing!” though quizzically looking at my empty belly.

Beautiful girlWe all looked our new baby over.  No one could get over the fact that she was such a pretty baby!  So perfect and chubby with a button nose and sweet little rosebud lips and a little round head.  She reminded me a lot of Haven, especially the nose.

Since she came out so fast Seren was a little stunned.  Her APGARs were 8-8 (off for color and tone) but her respirations and heart rate were as perfect as it had been during labor.  A little postural drainage from Jessica helped her get some of the gunk out and then she pinked up quite nicely (no bulb syringes at this birth thank you very much!).  Kyle felt that the cord was still pulsing so we knew that she was still getting lots of oxygen from the placenta.  About 25 minutes later Seren latched on (and I got a dose of Angelica herb), and I felt cramping and pressure, as well as a little separation gush of blood.  Then I pushed out the placenta.  All in all I only lost 250 cc’s of blood, which is really great!

In bedWe decided to go and get cozy on the bed as a new family.  Seren kept nursing like a champ.  After a long while of that I got up to try and pee and Kyle took Seren for a while.  He was such a sweet daddy, smooching and loving on her.  He had waited for a long time to hold an itty bitty baby.

Haven cutting Seren's cord

Haven cutting Seren's cord

I came back and we did the newborn exam and of course she was perfect, term, and healthy!  Stacie helped Haven to cut the cord like she had been telling her preschool teachers for months.  Then Haven got to hold her (Kyle had to put Lyric to bed, she was so tired) and Miranda made placenta prints which turned out beautiful.  I was feeling great and Seren was nursing and pink and beautiful when everyone went home.  In fact, Seren nursed until 2:30 am when I finally cut her off and gave her my pinkie finger so I could get some sleep.  She’s still a champion nurser.

It was by far the most perfect, lovely, empowering, beautiful birth I could have ever hoped for!  I absolutely loved giving birth in my own home because I could settle into my space and my body and it made everything really peaceful and manageable.  I wouldn’t do it any other way!

Daddy smooches

Our midwife Stacie Meredith

Our midwife Stacie Meredith

Haven holding her sister

Haven holding her sister

Seren's first morning

Seren's first morning

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Beautiful Birth Art

Amanda Greavette

Amanda Greavette

I stumbled upon a wonderful Canadian artist, Amanda Greavette, who does lots of paintings depicting beautiful scenes of birth.  *Sigh* if I only had time or a place to paint! *sniff!*

Lyric’s Birth Story

Here is the story of my second daughter’s birth.  I like to say that Haven made me a mother, which was about as earth shattering as you could get, but Lyric’s birth made me a doula and aspiring midwife.

Following a miscarriage in September of 07, my previous OB told me it was my fault because I was still breast-feeding.  I had already decided I wanted a water birth with the second and wanted to switch providers but this really sealed the deal.  I went looking for an affordable and more sympathetic (and less myth-based) approach.
Meeting the midwives at the Mountain Midwifery Birth Center I realized everything the midwifery model of care could offer.  They actually seemed like the LIKED their jobs and talking to moms about their pregnancy and whatever else was going on in their lives, unlike my OB.
My last pregnancy was good, but Lyric’s pregnancy was even better.  I felt fantastic, even right up until I went into labor.  Towards the end she was measuring a little small, so Cassie sent me for an ultrasound.  I was freaked out and the midwives were so great and supportive and listened to my fears (everything showed up fine).
I went into the office Wednesday, June 18 for my last prenatal appointment.  Tracy did my forty-week check and found me to be 2 cm and 70% effaced.  I was feeling totally overwhelmed and emotional and when I broke down and started bawling in the waiting room, Heather said, “I think you’ll have your baby really soon.”

Sure enough, that Wed I went into early labor, waking all throughout the night with contractions.  They got much more regular at 9 am, from 2-5 minutes apart for three hours.  At 12:30 we decided to head down to the Birthing Center since we live a bit far.  We dropped off our stuff and headed to a nearby park to walk around outside.  I think this turned out to be not the best idea since I couldn’t really get inside myself and settle into the Birth Center.
We returned at 4:30 where they checked me and found I was 2 cm, 70% effaced…exactly the same as yesterday!  I was so frustrated!  I didn’t mind a longer, slower, labor as long as it seemed to be doing something!  Cassie and Tracy were awesome at talking me through my frustration, Tracy saying her last birth took three days to get there!  Tiffany also helped me regain control by saying my baby might just need a little extra time to get used to the idea of being on the outside.  They almost sent me home to a bath and glass of wine, but I really didn’t want to spend an hour in the car (contractions in the car are awful!) and I wasn’t sure when to come back since contractions were pretty close together anyway.  They decided to give me two hours to see how I would progress.

I calmed myself down, refused to look at the clock, and went inside myself.  After two hours Cassie checked me and I was at 4 cm so they decided to let me stay!  I spent some time on the toilet where my water broke, a high tear that didn’t continually leak fluid.  Two of my good friends came, including my friend who was a doula and was amazing at helping me with my breathing and rubbing my back!  Contractions started getting really strong, along with bloody show and more of the mucous plug was lost.

I spent my time going through transition in the tub, which was great and made the contractions much more round.  I was always a little worried I wouldn’t have a break if I did it naturally since I had had an epidural with Haven and it really helped my long labor by giving me a rest.  Magically my body seemed to know this and contractions slowed down to 7-8 minutes after I had gone through transition.  I even started to fall asleep in the water between contractions!  My body was naturally preparing me to push.

I was checked and found to be sort of stuck at 9.5 cm with a little “lip” of cervix left.  After sixteen hours at the Birthing Center, I really wanted to be done, so Tracy said I could try and push past it if I wanted to.  I tried but it was hard, like pushing into a hammock where the baby kept bouncing back.  Cassie ended up helping break the bag of water around her head which felt AMAZING, like her head was suddenly half as big.  Then she helped hold the lip of cervix back while I pushed.
At first I couldn’t tell what was a productive push and what wasn’t and I was losing all my energy out my voice.  Tracy gave me a great pep talk to help me learn the right way, then I became much more productive.  Twenty minutes of pushing and she was out!  My daughter Haven watched as I brought her out of the water and then she and Kyle joined me in the birth tub.  As soon as she came out of the water Haven said, “It’s a baby sister!”  Even to this day she likes to tell the story.  She says “Uterus squeeeeze the baby out and the baby came out Mommy’s yoni in the water and nurse and get all dry dry.  That was hard work for Mommy, Mommy did a good job, good job Mommy!”  Haven was totally thrilled with her new baby sister and held her even before Daddy!  We got out of the bed and spent time cuddling as a family on the bed.
After a long time, Kyle and the nurses did all the weighing and checking while I took a luxurious, relaxing herbal bath.  It felt wonderful!  We stayed for a while, then packed up to go home…at 4 am!  It was nice to be in our own bed after such a long night.  The nurses and midwives needed a break too because with the full moon and Summer Solstice brought six new babies…IN 24 HOURS!
The recovery went really really well, much better than after Haven’s birth.  I think I was able to be aware of what my body was doing so much more without the epidural and not rush my body into a place it wasn’t ready to go.  As a result I had only one tiny tear that felt fine after a day or so.
Haven’s birth was good, but Lyric’s birth was phenomenal.  I never thought I could be so nurtured and supported in the process.  The midwives and nurses were all fabulous and Kyle and I both enjoyed the intimate atmosphere.  We loved having Haven there to watch the birth.  I can think of no greater responsibility than teaching our children (especially our daughters) that birth is a normal, natural part of life and nothing to be feared.  It was all I could have hoped for and more.

birth-145Lyric Hana Brynn
Lyric:  because she loves being sung to
Hana:  meaning “flower” in Korean, her placenta is buried under a flowering linden tree
Brynn:  meaning “little drop of water” for my little water birth baby

June 20, 2008
12:23 am
7 lb 3 oz
20 in

View Haven’s Birth

In the tub

In the tub

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She's born!

She's born!

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Proud Daddy

Proud Daddy

7 lb, 3 oz

7 lb, 3 oz

So happy

So happy

Our family with my good doula friend Rebekkah

Our family with my good doula friend Rebekkah

VIDEO – Baby born in the Caul

Here is an amazing video of a baby born “in the caul.”  Basically this means that the bag of waters never breaks and the baby emerges in a sac of water.  It’s amazing!

Most of the world has traditionally thought this phenomenon to be a good omen.  Some of the lore includes:

  • The baby will be destined for greatness
  • The child will never drown
  • The child will be psychic
  • The child will be able to travel and never tire
  • A sailor or ship that posses the caul will never drown or sink
  • Protection against infertility and evil forces
  • Intelligence
  • If twins are born in caul that means they are marked by an angel and their souls are shielded

New book/dvd in my library!

I’m so excited, I just ordered a new book/dvd set entitled “I Watched My Brother Being Born.” I think it’ll be great to add to my list of kids books and a resource for my Sibling Doula niche.

Here is a synopsis for the book:

This book by mother and daughter team Anne and Katarina makes a great compliment to the DVD by the same title. Katarina and her five year old brother Magnus watch their baby brother being born and tell about it in this charming and fact-filled book. The book takes on the voice of Katarina but also has an introduction for parents.

“My goal with this book is to teach our children that giving birth is a natural, safe and fulfilling process. Unless the birthing mother has an illness that needs special medical attention, it need not be treated like a disease. By including our children at birth they can see that it is a normal and healthy physical event…”

Illustrative photos from Anne’s third childs actual birth at home in a birthing tub make this book a rare find.

Here is a synopsis for the dvd:

I’m really excited about this great DVD that shows home water birth with children present. This is a great tool you can use to get your child(ren) ready to experience the birth of a sibling. This 21 minute movie is about two siblings ages five and seven who are present for their brother’s home water birth. Partially told in the voice of seven year old Katarina, this is an excellent resource for expectant parents and birth professionals who are wanting to prepare children for the arrival of a new baby. A paperback book version seen above is also available which is a great accompaniment to watching the video. 21 minutes long.

Tips on Writing a Birth Plan

Here are some things to consider when writing a birth plan:

Some people like birth plans, others feel it’s too restrictive.  If you’ve thought about what you want and talked with your provider and feel comfortable that everyone’s on the same page and you just want to go with the flow, please do!  If it feels better for you to have things organized on paper rather than in your brain, here are some tips to help you along!

  • Know your options – They say if you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.  Research different elements of labor, birth, and postpartum.  A great place to start is to read The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer and Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper
  • Keep it brief – No hospital staff is willing to read a 20-page manifesto!  Keep it simple and use bullets or numbers.
  • Prioritize – There are so many things you might want in your birth but choose the few that really mean a lot to you, ie, keeping the baby with you skin-to-skin after birth.  Don’t put things in your birth plan that you know aren’t allowed, for example if the hospital doesn’t allow waterbirth, it won’t mean much that it’s in your plan.
  • Use positive language – No one wants to deal with a belligerent person!  Instead of “We don’t want the baby taken away” say “We prefer the baby to be examined on mom’s chest and to stay skin-to-skin as long as possible”
  • Separate wishes into categories – By organizing the list into “Labor”, “Birth”, “Postpartum”, and “Newborn Care” staff can easily find what your wishes are.
  • Talk with your Partner – It’s important you’re on the same page
  • Show the plan to everyone involved – Make sure your midwife/OB/doula know what your wishes are and can respect them.  If they can’t respect a vital point, it may be time to find a new care provider.  Remember, it’s never too late to make a change that could mean a world of difference to your birth!
  • Find out about waivers – See if you need to sign waivers to decline something in hospital/birth center policy.  For example, you may need to sign a waiver if you don’t want eye drops for the baby because you don’t, say, have a venereal disease.
  • Have care providers sign the plan – Keep the plan in your chart and carry one with you in your bag if it makes you feel more at ease.
  • BE FLEXIBLE! – Everyone has an idea of their ideal birth but it’s important to be flexible if something unexpected happens.  The main point is that you feel respected and consulted at every twist and turn of labor and birth.