. .:: It's a little strange receiving the news that baby #2 is on the way, when you could swear it was just yesterday you photographed the birth of baby #1. YESTERDAY, I tell you. But alas, she's grown and she's ready to become a big sister, and the day it happens is the most incredible and truly awesome day to capture in photographs. This family is so dear to me, and looking at their parents, I just know these girls will grow up to be women of integrity and strength and fearlessness. It's taken me a while to find time to blog with all the babies being born these past couple of weeks, but now I'm honored to share with you the beautiful and peaceful home water birth of Piper. Midwife: Front Range Midwifery ::. .
**Note: All images are reviewed and approved by my clients prior to being made public**
And now, a special treat for you fellow mommas! Alysssa and Shane are happy to share their birth story with you, hoping it will serve as a comfort and guide to anyone interested in home birth:
On July 1, 2015 @ 3:38am we welcomed baby girl #2 into our family via a home birth.
Labor was 5 hrs 53 min with 8 minutes of pushing.
She wieghed 7 lbs. 13 oz and was 21.5 in. long
Shane was planning on delivering her, but baby girl decided to come while I was in the pool.
We decided on Piper Dawn Markham on July 4th.
I feel constant pressure on my belly. Lots of Braxton Hicks. No true working contractions...that I can tell. (I realize this seems silly to not be sure if you are having contractions, but let me tell you, when you have a baby at term inside of you, it can become difficult to distinguish what is her moving and what is a contraction.) I send a text to my midwife, Kim Lenderts, and my photographer, Michelle Garey (she was the photographer for Makenna’s birth), and give them a heads up just in case this is the real deal.
Contractions are here and come quickly. I feel them in both my back and belly: That’s how I know for sure they are contractions. Additionally, as they begin and then peak, they cause me to shift my body to seek a comfortable position. I time them. A 45 second contraction with 45 second break. Some are only 30 seconds and others are 1 minute, but each is followed by a rest that is equivalent timing.
I’ve timed my contractions for 15 minutes, and I’m confident I’m in labor and this baby is coming in a few hours. I call Kim and let her know what’s going on. We’ve been very open through all of my appointments that given my “no drama” attitude toward birth, the fact that I had a dream about birthing alone because my labor was so fast, and that my labor with Makenna was just under 6 hours, she wants to be informed of progress sooner than I might feel she needs to know.
“How far apart are your contractions?” she asks.
“They last 45 seconds with a 45 second break, on average,” I respond.
“Oh wow! Do you feel I need to come right now, or should I wait?” (She lives about 15-20 min away.)
“You are fine to wait.”
“Let me know as things progress.”
Once I’m off the phone, I call Michelle.
Michelle immediately picks up the phone. (She told us when we had dinner with her months ago that she has a very loud and obnoxious ring tone for all of her expecting clients, so she won’t sleep through a call.) I let her know the situation. She lets me know she is going to head our way immediately. (She has about a 1.5 hour commute.) I’m glad she is our photographer. She and Shane are the only two people who know exactly how my last labor went, so I find comfort in her being with me for baby #2.
All needed parties have been informed of the situation.
Shane goes and changes out of his work clothes and then comes and sits in our office with me. (He got home around 9:30pm from work b/c he stayed late to get office work done in case baby decided to come tonight. This wasn’t the first, or the second, or even the third time he had stayed late to get things done, “in case baby decided to come.” My dear sweet husband couldn’t exactly shut down Green Hills Sod Farm and just wait for baby girl to arrive. Instead he was running his sod business and trying to predict when his baby was going to make her debut. Needless to say, neither one of us is psychic.)
Shane is wearing the same shirt he wore when Makenna was born. He smiles about it. I like his nostalgia and tradition he’s committing to. I’m at the desk working on doTERRA since it’s the last day of the month, and I have a qualification coming and want to make sure I reach it. As I work, contractions keep coming and I shift around seeking a comfortable position while I smile and chat with Shane to distract myself.
“Honey, do you need to go lay down?” My husband is so sweet and concerned.
“I’ve just got to finish a few things and then I will.”
I get a couple of texts from my upline checking on how I’m doing with my end of month. I reached my goal, and they send their congrats. They don’t know I’m in labor. It’s 10:38pm.
Shane and I go to the bedroom to rest. I have Shane apply the pads from my TENS unit to help with back labor. I’m not sure if it helps, but it doesn’t feel bad, so I’m all for it. I also ask him to rub some Black Pepper and Basil doTERRA essential oils on my lower back to ease my discomfort. I notice their warming effect, and they do soothe the rough edges of my back labor. (I'll end up using a myriad of oils on baby and me postpartum and every day after to help support my recovery with everything from tightening of the skin to emotional support for me (my midwife has been incredibly impressed with my recovery as have I because it's been faster than it was with Makenna) and immune, digestive and neurological support for baby girl. Oh, and I never once had to take a pain killer postpartum. My oils did the trick. Needless to say, I'm in love with these oils!)
I lay on my side which feels pretty good. My contractions have increased gradually over the last hour. I need to focus my breathing through them now to manage the pain. Shane reaches over to give a reassuring touch as he listens to my breathing deepen and then relax with each passing contraction. I last about 3 contractions before I feel the need to get out of bed. I head to the living room where the big silver yoga ball is at. I feel comfortable sitting/bouncing on that. Shane and I talk a bit. We talk about what’s about to come, about how I feel somewhat in denial that I’m actually in labor because we thought it would happen two weeks earlier, so at this point it seemed like I would just be pregnant forever. Talking to Shane soothes me. He is my best friend, and I’m grateful for how he knows me. I have complete trust in him. Contractions continue to come and as they wash over me, I breathe into them and visualize my uterus contracting, pushing the baby down, and my cervix dilating.
I feel like it’s time to call Kim and let her know it’s time to come. Shane makes the call. He doesn’t know what to tell Kim other than I asked him to call her and tell her to come. I probably should have been doing the talking, but really all I would have said was that things are more intense, and I have a feeling it is the right time to come. Of course, I didn’t communicate that to Shane. I just asked him to call her...oh well. It’s now 11:36pm.
Michelle arrives. She comes in and makes herself at home. I’m grateful for that. (Last time, Shane and I had this urge, which we acted on, to entertain her. I still remember her telling us in her incredibly sweet Michelle way, that she knows what her job entails and she is fine sleeping on couches to pass time when called too early, or getting herself water, food, etc.) She nonchalantly sits on our living room floor and pulls out what appears to be knitting. She chats with us as I continue to bounce on the ball. We small talk for a bit which is what I want because it does distract me and passes the time. Plus, Michelle is fun to talk to. (I promise this isn’t an advertisement post for her, but seriously, she is an amazing photographer and person!)
Cairo, our 70 lb. Rhodesian ridgeback, is interested in what Michelle is up to and sniffs her and her gear. Once she is satisfied, she wanders back over to her bed. If Cairo gets intrusive we plan to put her in Shane’s truck in the garage. She loves to sleep in there when Shane is at the farm early in the morning. It seems like a great plan to us.
Yes our dog is at the house...as is Makenna. She is sound asleep in her bed. (When I put her to bed at 8:30pm that night, I had a feeling it was the last time she would go to sleep as our only baby, but I had had that feeling before. I did have a stronger feeling that I would really go into labor that night, but that also could have been me willing it simply because since leaving work at 5pm that day I had jumped on two trampolines, walked for 45 minutes, drunk a horrible concoction of Castor Oil, Black and Blue Cohosh all within Red Raspberry Leaf tea, along with dousing my belly over and over with what was probably ½ bottle of Clary Sage, but I digress.) Back to Makenna being at home asleep in her bed while I’m laboring in the other room....
Our plan was that if I went into labor at night we would simply leave Makenna undisturbed in her bed since my labor with her was fast and we could assume I would be fast with baby #2. We assumed we wouldn’t need to worry about her waking up while I was still in labor. Plus, Makenna is a good sleeper. I’m glad I’m in labor at night because it is nice to not have to coordinate with someone to take her or wake someone up in the middle of the night to head to the hospital. Instead, her schedule remains uninterrupted and she has zero idea anything is taking place in our home.
Kim, my midwife arrives. She doesn’t knock, she knows she doesn’t need to. Who else would be at our door at this hour? I’m still on the ball and can see my front door. I see her hand place a bag inside my door, and then another, and then another. I continue to chat while having contractions.
Lexi, Kim’s assistant arrives. She talks about how she was going to sleep for a little bit before she came but then couldn’t...or just didn’t...I don’t remember which. Lexi was going to be unavailable to help with my birth had I gone into labor on my due date. I was impressed with her when I met her several weeks back, so I’m glad she is able to be the assistant instead of someone I’ve never met. Kim and Lexi immediately start to set things up. I’m not paying much attention to exactly what they are doing, but it is obvious they have a system and a routine. They need to know where all supplies are when they need them. Lexi asks where the bathroom is that I’ll be using and then scurries off with some supplies in arms.
I continue to laugh and chat with Michelle and Shane. Due to my chatting and laughing, Kim rightfully asks if I’m really in labor.
“Yes,” I reassure her.
I am most definitely in labor. They can’t tell that every minute, I focus on my breathing and limit my talking as a contraction comes. It’s getting more difficult to do this but I’m doing what I’m doing to distract myself and keep things light.
The ball is no longer providing the relief I need. It’s time to change it up. I get up and wander down the hall to the bedroom again. Shane follows. I crawl back in bed like I did before. I relax in between contractions and then breathe deeply through the contractions. This is my pain management. I last only last a few minutes in bed before I go to the floor at the foot of the bed and drop to my hands and knees. For whatever reason, being down on all fours is the most comfortable position. Shane knows that my labors are strong in my back. He immediately puts his thumbs on my low back and begins to massage. I go through a couple of contractions in this position.
I hear footsteps coming down the hall. It’s Lexi coming to take my vitals, and it’s 1:15am. She is using a new BP cuff that Kim got and it proves to be troublesome due to the pump and the gauge being one piece and the air release valve being brand new. (If any of you have ever taken BP, it is always goofy using a new cuff.) I let her know that I have a BP cuff that is just like Kim’s old one, so I offer it to her. Shane grabs it out of my dental hygiene box I keep in the closet...I’m a nerd like that. She uses that without any issue. Lexi apologizes profusely about having to take my BP a couple of times especially since I was having contractions during the process. I’m not annoyed by any means. I totally understand what she is going through, and I’m glad I could help. (Besides my BP cuff could use some use!) She puts the doppler on my belly to listen for baby’s heartbeat. 90 beats/min before, during and after contractions. All is well.
I move from the bedroom back down to the living area. For whatever reason, I decide to sit on the barstool at the counter in the kitchen. Shane grabs one and sits behind me waiting for the next contraction, so he can massage. I ask him to rub more essential oils on my back. He is the most amazing birth coach ever! He whispers encouraging words in my ear every now and then.
“You are amazing.”
Kim comes over and asks if I want an exam. We discuss what this entails. With the frequency and intensity of my contractions, I don’t want an exam. I haven’t had a single one yet in the pregnancy, so why start now. (Lets be honest ladies, it’s never fun having someone peer up our nether regions, and given what I’ve learned about how effacement and centimeters dilated means absolutely nothing about when birth with happen, I’m happy to pass on an exam. Case in point, with Makenna’s labor I was told how dilated I was, and the rate of my progression which led me astray.) I don’t really want to go down that road again. I decline. This is Kim’s preference as well.
I continue to breathe deeply through each contraction which are in what Kim will later call, “a strange pattern.” (I tend to have 2-3 contractions right on top of each other where the end of one immediately starts the next contraction with a break after each set rather than one contraction followed by a rest followed by another contraction.) When I do get breaks, I joke and chat.
I feel like I might puke. It’s not that impending feeling that I am for sure going to toss my cookies, but I have a bit of that inkling. Lexi grabs a big mixing bowl from the cupboard and places it on the floor under my face as I’m on all fours.
As she places the bowl under me, this thought passes through my head.
I hope I don’t puke because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use this bowl again, and I like this bowl.
I don’t express this thought out loud and wonder if Shane is having the same thought as I am. Shane massages perfectly and Lexi offers coaching as well.
When the contraction ends, I tell Kim and Lexi the puke story from my birth with Makenna where I got reprimanded from my nurse when I puked and didn’t use the official puke bag because I was in the bathroom going through transition alone while her precious puke bag sat on the table next to my hospital bed. She was lucky I used the trashcan. Shane, Michelle and I laugh about the absurdity of that moment over 2 years ago. Kim and Lexi laugh too.
Over the course of the next 2 hours, I continue to breathe deeply through each contraction focusing on my uterus contracting and my cervix dilating to allow the baby to push down and out. Lexi continues to take my vitals and check on baby's heart rate every 30 minutes. At times I say encouraging words to myself out loud to keep myself motivated, to encourage myself, and to remember there will be an end even though right now I sometimes think there won’t be.
I offer myself words of encouragement out loud when my mind wanders to negative thoughts.
"I can do this! I’m doing this!"
"Yes you can!" I hear from Lexi. Shane leans forward and whispers his encouragement again too.
"You have great pain management skills," comments Kim. (I could really use an "atta girl" at that moment, so I'm grateful for her comment and Lexi and Shane's encouragement.)
I’m grateful for my team. They are all fabulous and so helpful. I find most comfort (“Comfort” doesn’t describe what I’m feeling by any means, but words are inadequate to describe the incredible process that is labor and birth!) during a contraction on my hands and knees and then relax by sitting on my knees between contractions. During this time, Kim and Lexi fill the tub that is in our dining room. The time is now 3:13am.
I get up to use the bathroom in between contractions. I want to use it quickly because lets be honest, who wants to have a contraction whilst sitting on the toilet? No one. I finish...and we are out of toilet paper. I’m kicking myself for not refilling that earlier in the day when I noticed we were low. I send Shane to get more from the other end of the house. He hurries. I work through the next contraction on my own. Rather than embracing that contraction like I try to do with all contractions to have them progress me along, I simply endure it. Yikes! I go back to the living room and get on my hands and knees for contractions. Up until now I’ve been breathing deeply and need occasional reminders to breathe from my gut. Now I have a moan in my breathing and you can hear that I want to cry. This is incredibly intense, and I want to escape. Kim asks me what it feels like.
“It hurts in my hips,” I explain through a voice clearly showing my desire to cry and escape what I'm experiencing.
Shane tells me later that at that point all he wanted to do was take the pain from me. He wanted to bear my burden and allow me respite. I knew he would have these feelings at some point during my labor because he expressed those same feelings to me after my labor with Makenna. I find the parallel of labor and birth to the Savior's atonement beautiful. Just like only He could suffer for our sins and allow us everlasting life, only can a mother labor and give birth to a new life. This is the biggest reason why I seek to have my babies without pain medication. I feel this process is an incredible gift from a loving Heavenly Father, not a punishment or a burden. For me, it draws me nearer to the Savior because in those moments when I think I can no longer bear the burden of labor and I wish more deeply than I've ever wished for anything in my life to have it all taken from me, I understand why the Savior asked his Father to remove the cup He had been asked to carry. I could go on, but I'll leave my thoughts on the subject at that.
Lexi feels my belly and uses the doppler.
“Baby is really low.” She has a sense of urgency in her voice that I like and dislike all at the same time.
I know baby being low is good because it means things are progressing, and I also know baby being low means I’m about to really go to work.
“Would you like to get in the pool?” Kim asks.
I’m genuinely excited to get in the pool. I remember that with Makenna it was a sweet, sweet moment when I got in the tub. I was given respite from the contractions and stepping into that tub felt like I was stepping into a hot tub on a cold winter’s night. That tingly feeling of complete relaxation was what I wanted so terribly.
Shane helps me stand as does Lexi. I can barely walk on my own and they have to help in a significant way. I step into the tub and slide down into the warm relaxing water. I’m in heaven. It’s 3:22am.
As I enter the water Shane points out the temperature gauge floating in the tub.
“Look! They got you a rubber ducky this time!” (He’s referring to the time I spent in the tub laboring with Makenna when I joked about needing to have brought a rubber ducky.)
“Oh yeah.” I had completely forgotten about that.
I have about 2-3 minutes of bliss. I feel zero pain or pressure. Just relaxed. I pull my hair up into a bun, and then...the bliss is over.
A contraction comes and it is incredibly intense. I roll to my side so Shane can massage my back from the edge of the pool. That doesn’t work. I don’t like that position.
I get back to my hands and knees, and Shane reaches over and massages my low back again. My contraction ends, but I’m still in agony and now I’m panicking. I move around in the pool seeking respite and can’t find any.
This has to stop. I can’t do this. I need to get out of my body. I need to get out of here!
These thoughts race through my head.
"You are going through transition," Kim informs me.
I find a smidge of comfort knowing that piece of information, but I continue to panic inside my head. Somewhere inside me I know I need to stop this anxiety that has taken over my mind.
“I can do this!” I command myself boldly out loud.
“Yes you can! You are amazing! You are doing it!” I hear these phrases from Shane, Kim, Lexi and Michelle.
I feel the urge to push.
“I want to push!” I say out loud.
“Then push,” comes the response from Kim.
I love that her voice has a hint of a, “then push, dummy!” sound to it. I’m forgetting that I don’t have to get permission from her to allow my body to do what it knows how to do. I’m falling back on my experience at the hospital where I was told when things would be done and take place, one of which was when to push and when not to push.
I push...but to no avail. I’m not having a contraction. I realize I need to wait for that pushing contraction for this to work. I also feel like I’m going to push out...well you know...while I push this baby out. I let Kim know this.
“It’s okay!” Comes her reassuring response.
If she is okay with it, then I’m okay with it, I think to myself. Thankfully the urge passes quickly and that issue never becomes an issue.
I panic again. I’m overwhelmed with the thoughts that I cannot give birth to this baby. I scramble again. Kim senses what is happening in my mind by my movement in the tub and tells me calmly,
“Reach up and feel your baby.”
Intuitively I follow her instructions. I’m clueless as to what I’m feeling.
“I don’t know what I’m feeling!” I tell her.
“It will be soft and you’ll feel some hair,” comes Lexi’s voice.
I still have no idea what I’m feeling and yet, I somehow feel reassured.
A pushing contraction comes. I push.
Shane is cheering me on, and I hear emotion in his voice. His emotion helps me push with everything I’ve got. My water breaks and baby’s head emerges. I’m washed over with an incredible sense of relief. Shane is even more emotional because he can see our baby girl.
Before I had to convince myself I could do this. Now I know I can do this.
I wait for what seems like FOREVER for another contraction to come. (I’m not anxious for the contraction to come because I’m in pain, I simply know I need the help of a contraction to birth this baby girl and yet the contraction is taking longer to come than I remember it taking with Makenna.)
Finally, the contraction comes, and I push. I feel baby come into the world. I instinctively reach down for her. Kim and Lexi help guide baby girl up to my arms.
There she is. There is baby girl. There is the baby that will be Shane’s and mine forever. It’s 3:38am. She gives a weak cry, and I hold her close and smile and talk to her. Shane is right there with us and oddly enough, Cairo too. She wants to see what is going on, so she places her head on the edge of the tub and squeezes her way between Kim and I. I can only imagine what Kim’s thoughts are on her newest assistant.
Lexi puts the fetal stethoscope on baby girl and monitors her heart rate. She signals to Kim that it’s on the low end and Kim takes baby, tips her forward and massages her back.
Baby gives out a loud cry and she hands her back. Shane and I don’t take our eyes off baby girl. I’ve experienced this before, and I’m still in shock...is this real? Is this baby in my arms for real? I stay in the tub and continue to hold baby girl.
The water is warm, so she and I are comfortable. Kim coaches me through how to deliver the placenta. At 3:50am the placenta is delivered and Kim “oohs and aaahs” over it.
“Look at this cord insertion,” she says with scientific wonderment.
I like that I’m not the only nerd around. She doesn’t clamp or cut the cord. Instead it will remain attached to baby for a bit and then later we will “cut” it by cauterization. Kim also shows us "the sac" and gives a mini anatomy lesson to her inquisitive students right there in the pool.
The pool water takes on a red color after the placenta is delivered. I had wondered if I did have a water birth if that would bother me. It doesn’t. I remain in the tub awhile longer and all of us look at baby girl.
It's time to get out of the pool now. While holding sweet baby girl, I’m helped to stand in the tub and then step out of the water. I walk down the hall to my room and climb on in, all while still holding baby girl. I’m in love with the fact that she has been in my arms this whole time, and I wasn’t told I can’t hold her or have her taken from me after just a short time together like it was with Makenna.
As I crawl into bed, Shane goes around the other side and crawls in next to me. Shane and I don’t know this baby’s name, nor will we for 4 more days, and yet I know her so deeply. She has been part of me for 42 weeks. (10 weeks shy of a year!) I know her and she knows me. As the morning continues to lighten around us with light coming in through our half open blinds, Kim assesses me and Piper on an ongoing basis.
I tore again, so I’m going to need stitches. Kim stitches me up while Shane holds baby girl. I’m impressed that Kim can do sutures in these conditions.
Now it’s time to “cut” the cord. We will be burning the cord instead of cutting it. Baby has been in our arms for several hours now and has had the placenta still attached via her umbilical cord. There are hygienic reasons for burning the cord and it actually helps the umbilicus to fall off faster which I’m a fan of. Kim lets us know that as the cord burns it won’t smell and there will be a pop ranging from fairly quiet to loud as the gasses inside are released. Lexi, Shane and Kim all use candles to burn the cord. I’m supposed to participate but baby girl has other things on her mind, so I try to feed her as they burn the cord. All of a sudden an incredibly loud “POP” fills the room.
“That was one of the loudest one’s yet!” Kim exclaims.
It takes about 5-10 minutes for the cord to burn through and baby to no longer be attached to her placenta. As soon as she is “free,” Kim does all the measuring.
Her head circumference, length, weight and checking her out developmentally are all things she assesses as well as a myriad of other things I'm unaware of. As she she examining baby girl, she lets us know that baby girl only has one thing that indicates she is past 40 weeks gestation: Her hand and foot prints. (Apparently the older you are the more defined the grooves become...to a point.) Other than those, everything else measures at 39-40 weeks. It wasn’t that we got the date wrong, she just needed more time to develop. (In fact, my ultrasound at 35 weeks since last menstrual period indicated she was 36 weeks 4 days gestation by ultrasound and then my ultrasound at 41 weeks since last menstrual period indicated she was 37 weeks gestation by ultrasound. That's only 3 days difference and yet I had carried her for 6 weeks between ultrasounds. Dr. Wexler is basically the father of ultrasounds, so he knows what he is doing! Baby girl just needed more time. Either that or she was waiting to be born on a full moon just like her sister!)
The sun is up now and while I don’t know what time it is, I do know Makenna will be waking up soon. Shane or I make a comment about her and a look of confusion washes over Kim’s face.
“Yep. She’s in the room across the hall,” I respond.
That’s how great of a sleeper Makenna is, a birth took place and my midwife didn’t even know my daughter was there
Sure enough, Makenna wakes up not too long later. Shane goes and gets her and brings her in to meet baby girl.
She is obviously confused to say the least. She knew there was a baby in my belly and talked to her and even kissed my belly now and then without any prompting from me, but just like the rest of us, I don’t think she grasped that at some point, baby sister would actually arrive. Makenna meets her sister, and then, Shane takes her to make some breakfast.
Kim finishes up with what she needs to do and Lexi has cleaned up the pool and packed up the supplies, so it’s time to wrap up the party. I head out to the kitchen to make sure Lexi, Kim and Michelle all get their “Thank you” gift baskets I made for them. They all gave me the birth I had hoped for and while a gift basket doesn’t come close to expressing my gratitude for that, it’s at least something.
Michelle captures a few more gems before she leaves. I love her and how she is always around and yet I rarely notice her with her camera. Maybe she could be a ninja in her next life…
It’s just past 9am and we say our good-byes. Kim will be back tomorrow to check on baby and me, but until then, we are left as a family of 4.
Makenna and Piper had nearly identical labor and pushing times.
Makenna’s official time start to finish was 5 hours 47 min. with 9 min. of pushing.
Piper’s official time start to finish was 5 hours 53 min. with 8 min of pushing.
My ultrasound done at 41 weeks 2 days guesstimated that Piper weighed 7 lbs 13 oz. Piper was born weighing 7 lbs. 13 oz.
After having a natural hospital birth and a natural home birth, (can you do a home birth with drugs?!?) Shane and I both wholeheartedly agree the home birth was significantly better. I may end up writing a post about why we chose to do a home birth, because I'm sure you can tell I'm an advocate of natural birth and now a fan of a home birth when mom and baby are low risk. We shall see...
SOURCE: The Markham Blog
The Birth of Piper :: Denver Home Birth Photographer