Meghan & Rob ~ Jackson's birth story 7.8.2009

This journey was about so much more than just birth for me. It was about healing, and believing, and redemption. So pardon me if I ramble, or become unfocused in telling it, or if my spelling and or grammar is off.

When I was almost 20 weeks pregnant I found an amazing birth board on Cafe Mom full of wonderfully brilliant (if not somewhat eccentric) natural birth activists. I had already been considering an out of hospital birth, and was interviewing a Birth Center, but honestly the idea of homebirthing had never really been on my mind. I wasn't sure I believed in my body or the process enough to let go and surrender to nature. But along with the board I found an amazing friend named Cindy (who would eventually be my doula). With her help, I found an amazing midwife, Karen and her assistant at the time Laura. Together they helped me see that the female body (for whatever else, it was good at ) was MADE for birth. I was an overweight lady, and I know in some OB's minds that automatically puts me in a high risk category, but I carefully managed my diet. My BP was as good as it has ever been, and I even consented to the Glucose test at my old OB's before I switched care to my midwife at 30 weeks. I felt like the OB's kept looking for a reason to "risk me out" of midwife care before it even started. They kept reminding me of my "history of preterm labor" (which is only funny now, since I went to exactly 41 weeks). I really felt like they were trying to scare me with the whole "could you live with yourself if the worst happened". Rob and I talked about that, and we decided that after all of our research that "the worst" was MOST likely to happen in a hospital where nature was constantly interrupted. And thus our Homebirth journey really began.

Rob was super supportive from the start - Which kind of surprised us both. 4 years ago, we both though Home birth was something that happened in 2 circumstances--accidentally, or b/c you were howl at the moon crazy. (funny we should mention the moon--since I went into labor on the full moon). We read everything we could find. We watched the "big 3" as they are called in my house (Business of Being Born, Orgasmic Birth and Pregnant in America). And the more we learned the more pissed off we were with our 2nd son's delivery. It was a terrible experience that left me unsure if I should ever have any more children since my OB (and at the time I believed her) told me I would never carry a baby to term. We got pregnant in July of 2008 and miscarried at 6 weeks, again more proof to my OB that I shouldnt get pregnant. She was so cold and cruel over the miscarraige that I didnt go back to her to confirm the completion of the loss. I found a new OB, who was better--still an OB but better.

When we got pregnant again in October I was natually scared as all hell. But I decided that wasting time being scared would be time I didnt get to enjoy being pregnant. That was the first change. I was going to stay active, I was going to eat well, I was going to be responsible for myself and my baby, and if the worst happened I wasnt going to have to wonder if I did something wrong. I felt empowered, and connected to my baby, and to the process. And I will never be the same.

Now for the good stuff ...

The pregnancy progressed beautifully with NO complications. We moved, I transferred care completely to Karen and Laura found a doula (Cindy), and was ready to meet this baby, but at the same time was so happy to be pregnant. As the end approached I found myself a little nervous. I was wondering if i was all talk (yay Homebirth as long as I don't have to do it, you know ).

As I hit 40 weeks I wondered how long I would get to be Jackson's sole care provider. I started having some labor signs as July kicked off. I lost my plug and had some contractions but nothing that suggested imminent labor. Then on July 6th, I had some bloody show, and my contractions were more intense but in NO way regular. I would get 2 or 3 that were 7-8 minutes apart and then get a 30 minute break and then 1 or 2 more that were 9-10 minutes apart. I decided to stop keeping track b/c I was driving myself nuts. I figured when it was labor I would know (i did in fact know, I just didnt know how FAST).

Cindy came by on the 6th for a play date with the boys (super fun times in the pool), and at one point she looked at me was like "im going to be driving back up here tomorrow or the next day" She knew!!!! I went to bed that night knowing I needed to rest. I slept well and for a long time. Rob went to study that morning, and I went about my day. I took the boys to the park and we played in the pool in the afternoon. I wasnt having any regular contractions, and the bloody show has slowed. I thought I might still have another week or so--and oddly at exactly 41 weeks I was okay with that. I was still pretty comfortable and the weather had been very cooperative.

I was a little tired though, so I decided a nap would be good. Rob was going for a jog, and both boys were resting (THIS NEVER happens). I woke up at about 3, and came out into the living room and Rob was sitting with his foot in a bowl of ice. He has a severely sprained ankle from his little jog, and in that moment i KNEW it was baby night. I even talked to Stacy that evening and told her i was sure his injurty was my first real Labor sign. I still wasnt having any true labor signs, but with him hobbling around and no longer able to help support my squatting effectively--I just knew. He tried to down play how bad it was and even tried to show me that he could "walk."

His dad came over to help with the boys that night since Rob was "fine." I felt this NEED to go to the store. I needed some bananas, like at that moment I had to have them RIGHT THEN. I ordered the boys (all of them now including Rob's dad) pizza, and went on my way. I got home unpacked the groceries, tidied the house, put the boys to bed, said goodbye to Rob's dad, got Rob some milk and oreos (again b/c he was TOTALLY fine and could have gotten them himself if he wanted), and went and took a nice warm bath. I took my contacts out and was getting ready to go to bed when I noticed I had a little blood in the toilet. I decided to watch it the next time I went the the bathroom. There was more. it was new blood, but not like bloody show. It kind of looked like the first day of a period. I called the Laura and Karen to ask her if this was a concern. She thought probably not, but wanted to watch it to make sure it wasnt a problem with the placenta. This was about 10pm. She told me to have a big glass of OJ and make sure the baby was responsive. I did, and sat down to watch Ralphie May (comedian) on Comedy Central. The baby was super active, and I was enjoying spending some time with Rob. I texted Cindy just to keep her updated. Her first text back was "i think it is baby time"--again we just didnt know how fast baby time would be.

At the end of the program right about 10:45, I was having more regular contrax, and they were different than the other ones. Much lower, and more intense, but still not very long. Only lasting about 30-40 seconds, and I was still getting a break in between sets. I was still having the period like flow, so I texted my midwife, and she said to check back in with her in an hour. I knew this was the beginning, but I thought I might have another day or so of this. At 11:45pm (7-7), I updated Karen and Laura, and they said to let them know when the contrax were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a minute. At 12:45 I called Laura and let her know they were 4 minutes, but still only lasting about 45 seconds at the most. I was using my birth ball, and was comfortable in between them, and TOTALLY at peace. I used my breathing, and focused on each contrax knowing that it was purposeful and was doing its job to open my cervix, and help me birth my baby. Rob and I had practiced with Hypnobirthing (the Mongan Method), and the breathing and visualizing techniques were incredibly helpful, especially trying to SEE the contrations in colors.

By 1:45 the contractions were 2-3 mintues and I texted Laura and Cindy that I was getting in the pool. They were getting super intense, and lasting about a minute now. Rob brought the computer into the room so that I could listen to my birth mix. The music was wonderful, and gave me a great focusing tool.

Rob was STILL filling the tub at this point, but I didnt care. (we have a pygmy water heater that cant keep hot water for more than about 5 mintues). He started filling the pool at 10:30 and by 1:45 we were still only 3/4 of the way there. I didnt care. It felt AMAZING--hose and all. I was so surprised at the instant relaxation of the water. I was floating and at that moment I wondered if that is what the baby had been feeling for the last 9 months. Ive had an epidural before, and I have to tell you I found the water to be a better alternative. I still had use of my legs, and was able to adjust my position at will, which made the contractions seem shorter.

Cindy and Laura both called and heard me in the back ground (Rob answered the phone) And both jumped in the car. This was just before 2 am. At about 2:20 am Laura got here, saw me, listened to the baby once, and called Karen immediately. she said that I was about ready. I didnt believe her. I still thought I had a while to go. I went to the bathroom and got back in to the pool. At 2:35 l felt these INCREDIBLE pressure sensations. Seriously at one point I thought my butt was going to fall out. I moved positions in the pool until I got comfortable. (Apparently I was in transition).

I hadnt decided before then that I was going to deliver in the pool. I knew I wanted to labor there, but wasnt sure about the actual delivery. Well, at that moment the thought of getting out of the pool was about as appealing as getting my leg chopped off with a spoon.

At 2:52am, Karen got to my apartment (she must have been FLYING). She looked at me and asked "are you pushing or trying not to push" I told her "I'm not in control, Im not deciding anything" She said "Great, your body knows just what to do". At this point I panicked. I wont lie. I told Rob --who was so wonderful and was rubbing my back and stroking my hair that I wasnt ready to push and I needed a break. He told me do what you need to. Take a break, breathe, that I was doing everything right, and the baby would be here soon. Karen was whispering the only thing I needed to hear (that i could do it and my body would do exactly what it was meant to) At 2:55 (ish). I felt a dropping sensation, and I no longer got to decide it was break time. The baby was ready. We had beautiful music on in the back ground,( Greg Laswell "what a day") and I felt the baby move lower and lower, and then Laura said "Meghan reach down and touch the head". No one was touching me, it was just me and my body and my baby. I reached down and felt the head and then the bag of water broke around him, and really the rest of him kinda of just came out like he was riding a water slide. I reached between my legs and picked up my beautiful baby.

Rob was standing behind me outside the pool. He had intended to be in with me, but it went so fast , and he was still filling the tub at the end. At the very end (we still didnt know it would be like 3 minutes of pushing) he went to turn the water back on, and I cried out to him to stay b/c the baby was coming.

Cindy came running in at 3:02, lord knows she was driving illegally fast. I stayed in the pool until the placenta delivered, and I got to look at the cord and the placenta before anyone did anything to it. Rob cut the cord after it was limp. Rob told me I was superwoman, and in a moment of lightheartedness I informed him "Superwoman doesnt have SHIT on me"

I got out of the tub and Rob was holding Jackson. No body other than ROb or I touched him until we were ready. Karen looked me over, while Cindy and Laura examined my placenta. Rob and I were finally ready to let Jackson be examined. He had a great nursing session (Cindy tells me he has a great latch and suckle).

He weighed 8lbs12oz, and we still dont know how long he is, we forgot to measure. Im guessing 21 or so inches. His head was 14inches.

All in all it was the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of.

Karen Webster

WomanWise Midwifery: homebirth & women's health, 257 East Main Street, Elkton, MD, 21921

daughter, sister, friend, mother, midwife, nana, teacher.