Looking back, I must have known it was coming. The homebirth of my daughter, Talula Skye. Of course, it was my due date, so every day that passed I was inevitably getting closer. But, I had a really unusually satisfying sleep that night and lost a lot of mucus plug when I woke up. And kids, being the in tune little things that they are, must have also known. My daughter had said to me, just days before that I would have to wait to take them trick-or-treating until next year, because she said the baby would come before Halloween.
And the morning of the day I went into labor, my youngest cuddled up to me in bed and asked to nurse with a mischievous smile on his face. I think we both knew it would be the last time he had nursing all to himself, but neither of us said anything. And when we were all up and getting ready, I did my own version of nesting- I felt driven to give the kids a bath, complete with hair washing and blow-drying, which was pretty unusual for me to want to do at 9 months pregnant. Almost like any other day.
It sounds so typical, I guess, but it was the most beautiful fall day and I told my husband that I thought it would be a beautiful day for a baby to be born. He looked at me funny, and surprised me with what is an elaborate plan for him- he wanted to pack a picnic and take the kids to the park for the day.
So, on a day almost like any other, we piled into the car, picked up some food and drove to the windy, hilly, empty playground. The fall leaves had never looked so pretty, and we spent a few hours feeding the ducks and watching the kids play. Right before we left, my midwife/friend called and asked if we wanted to go with them to the zoo for a Halloween thing. It sounded fun, and I knew my kids would love it, but something made me want to stay close to home. She told me later that she knew if I didn't want to go trick or treating, that I must be in labor!
As I was walking up the steep hill, I felt the first contraction that was clearly different than all of the practice ones I had felt up until that point. It felt good, almost, to be different and not as high and tight as I was used to. It was definitely lower in my body, and I felt some pressure too. But, it was by no means painful, and if I hadn't been in labor before I might not even have noticed it. It's like riding a bike, though. You never forget that feeling.
So, we continued to play because I wasn't quite ready to admit I was in labor. I had a few harder contractions on the way home, but chalked them up to riding in the car. My midwife had called when we were away, and by the time I called her back (around 1 pm or so) I was having pretty regular contractions, like 5 minutes apart. She lives 4 hours away, but I was still hesitant to have her leave since technically I could stay this way for days. Luckily, she thought otherwise and told me she was on her way, and if I was wrong than I was wrong.
Not half an hour later arrived the famous “bloody show. " If it weren't for one of my midwifery textbooks saying that contractions with bloody show certainly signify labor, it might not have seemed as real to me. I called my midwife back, told her that yes, it was now good she was on her way, and began cleaning up for birth. I had decided just days before that I wanted to set up the birth pool in my husband's office. It's the biggest, least cluttered room we have, and it also has a door (a novelty around here) and access to all our music. So, I got to work moving his stuff out of the way and getting all the supplies in a corner. I was feeling the contractions, but they weren't really distracting me yet. Although, somehow I had a feeling of how it would progress because my husband asked me (at about 4 pm) if I thought that the baby would make it being born on this day, or not. I said without hesitation that the baby would come before midnight.
To keep myself busy, I made my weekly phone call to my parents because I knew I wouldn't be able to make it soon. It was a little bit of a challenge getting through that phone call unnoticed, but I wasn't going to let on that anything was happening. I just told them I thought it would be “soon" that the baby was born!
My local midwife/friend arrived around 4:30 and she checked hearttones and the baby's position. She was still LOA, thanks to the Webster technique, and I was thrilled that she was in position, ready to go. I milled around the house as everyone cooked, and tried to ignore the contractions as much as I could. Eventually, I escaped upstairs and put on some music. Labor was so different that I ever remember! After two posterior labors, I was used to being immobile and spending the entire labor feeling like I was going to die on my hands and knees. This was actually pleasant! It felt good to be upright and walking around. I was so pleased!
My midwife arrived around 5 pm or so and by that time I had taken to spending some time on the toilet. Since the pressure was increasing during contractions, I needed to pee constantly and that seemed like the easiest place to sit. I tried to relax during the contractions and just let pressure build. I felt like a human water balloon, about to burst. My husband would come up and check on me now and then, and although it was comforting to have him there, I wasn't ready for anyone yet. For some reason, every time he would come visit I would feel very emotional, like I needed to cry. It kept happening, and I realized it wasn't him, but the experience we had shared and the fact that I felt so lucky this labor. I decided to try the pool for a while, and told my midwife how I was feeling. I just kept crying and she listened. I realized I needed to do this to let my baby be born, and that I was angry about past births and I needed to tell this baby that it was safe to be born. I never realized I had fear for this baby until that moment. I began telling her “it's safe" during contractions, and told her no one was going to take her or do anything to her and that it was OK to come. She would be surrounded by loving people and would have a beautiful birth.
The pool was nice, but not what I needed at that moment. I was feeling antsy, so I put on some clothes and told Jason I needed to go outside and walk. It was dark, and crisp and cool and it felt wonderful. We did 2 little circles around our street/alley, and somehow I knew when it was time to go in. Almost immediately, things changed. I sat on the couch for one really good contraction, and knew I HAD to go upstairs now and get in the pool. I went up, and told my midwife I needed my husband now.
Things started to get intense, and I was definitely passing through transition. I got a little shaky, didn't know if I needed to eat or not and just generally started to feel “weird. " I labored in the pool, draped over the side for who knows how long. Then, I was trying to really relax my bottom when the undeniable “urge" took over at the peak of the contraction. It was still painful, because I wasn't really pushing yet, but I was so excited because I knew my baby was really coming soon!! I got into my thing of vocalizing through the contractions, and talking to my baby. She was moving and doing well. I would reach up and feel for her head, but I could still only feel the sac, bulging.
My daughter Amelia was in the room and was there for all of this! I was groaning and moaning and pushing and she just was supportive and so excited to see the baby. Finally, something emerged. . . . the sac!! I was excited but unsure when to expect the head- it still felt too high! I pushed a bit more, and just got more and more sac. The fluid in it looked clear, so I just kept going. I was actually enjoying myself now, because the pain had given way to this amazing feeling of my baby coming, and I was determined to get her out! Every time I felt pain, I would picture all the other women in the world giving birth at that moment, and it was very comforting to me. It sounds strange, but I would smile though pushing because I was just so happy with how things were going, and how good I actually felt!
My midwife encouraged me to try another position to see if the head would come down more, and I knew I needed to. . . . but I didn't want to because I knew it would hurt!! I knelt on one knee and put the other knee up, and although it was different, it was good and I did that for a few contractions. Sure enough, more of the sac bulged than ever.
For the last little bit of pushing (40 minutes total), I just had the instinctive urge to stand up in the pool and hang on something. I had never felt like that before, but it felt right. I felt bad for Jason, because I was hanging on him and feeling like I was just about going to break his neck and shoulders. These were no little pushes- I need to push like it is an athletic event, and this was no exception. I would stand and kind of squat thru the contraction. All of the sudden, kind of without warning, I felt the “ring of fire" and out came the rest of the bag and her head!!! I was really surprised, because I didn't know when that was coming, and it was already over! I do wish I had been a bit more prepared and I might not have bulleted it out. But I was SO excited!! I knelt down in the water and told my husband to get ready to catch her. Within seconds, her beautiful body was out in the water. Before I even knew what was going on, he announced that it was indeed a girl (although I never once thought otherwise!) and I swooped her up. We kissed and hugged her as everyone looked on, including her very proud big sister. Her APGARS were 9 and 10.
So, Talula Skye was born at 9:23 pm on October 29, 2006. I labored about 8 hours total, from start to finish. She was 8 lbs. , 1 oz and 20 inches long, with a headful of dark hair. From the moment I thought I might be pregnant, I somehow knew that she was Talula. It wasn't a matter of naming her, really, because I felt that already was her name. We had heard it a while ago- “Talula" is the name of a Tori Amos song, and the character is a very strong woman. I knew she was Talula, and I already knew she was this incredibly strong girl. We chose “Skye" because we liked it and it seemed to fit our new surroundings in the country.
Talula's homebirth was everything I had hoped it to be. It was incredibly beautiful for both me and my family, and incredible healing for me as well. I am infinitely grateful for the amazing love and support that I was given by my husband and our wonderful friends, who were also amazing midwives to me thoughout my pregnancy, labor and birth. I feel truly blessed for having all of them, and Talula, in my life.
Maryn Leister is Editor and Publisher of Indie Birth, an online magazine devoted to homebirth , independent thinking and natural living.
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