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 Every Month is Cesarean Awareness Month!

The following stories feature HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean.)

Each was written by an amazing momma who fought past the sadness, fear and disappointment of her previous cesarean delivery and bravely chose homebirth. I am in awe of the courage that these women and their families displayed...their commitment to healing, their tenacity, and their strength.

Cody Ryan - March 22

written by Gretchen Arnold

I will start by saying that my idea of birth is that women grow the perfect baby for their body and give birth naturally. We had our idea of the perfect birth plan in place for the birth of my first son Jeremy. We had a good midwife and support team including 2 doulas and a supportive hospital near Atlanta, GA. We read everything you can think to read about natural birth. We even took a 10-week Bradley Method class. So much to our surprise we ended up with an emergency cesarean after about 10 hours of un-medicated labor, five of which was pushing.

When it was all said and done we were blessed to have a healthy, beautiful 9lb 9oz baby boy. Even though everyone told me to feel blessed because he was alive and we were both healthy, I couldn’t help but feel like something wasn’t right. It was a very long hard recovery. I nursed my son for 19 months and together we worked through a very emotional journey.

We moved to Erie, PA on March 21, 2008 and soon after I found the local chapter of ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network). They were very informative and inspirational. I started to believe in my body and the ability to birth a baby. My husband and I decided we were ready to have another baby. The next month we found out we were pregnant. YEAH and scary! What now? I need to have this baby the way I know my body can. So my husband and I had many talks about what we needed to do to have the experience we wanted. We came to the decision that I was ready to take the emotional and physical responsibility of a homebirth with a midwife.

It was a wonderful 9 months filled with questions, fear, hope, inspiration and love. But most importantly I was able to have a supportive team that respected my choices and me! I had to heal from my surgical birth and know that I could trust my body and birth my baby. I read birth stories, talked to only a few very supportive people and drew birth art, inspired in part from the book Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. I was ready and confident that my body knew how to naturally birth a baby. I still had some anxiety and fearful thoughts would creep in every now and then but I just talked about it with my support team and family and never let it consume me. I felt strong and ready. Now we wait.

Every morning for a week I told my little baby “you can come now we are ready.” I made lasagna and put it in the freezer for after the birth and I made my husband and my almost two-year-old son clean the house Saturday the 21, one year to the day after moving to Erie. I even splurged Saturday night and had a piece of warm apple pie with vanilla bean ice cream. Yum! I was officially 39 weeks pregnant and feeling very ready to have this baby.

Much to my excitement I woke up Sunday morning at 3 am feeling a few mild contractions. I stayed in bed and was able to doze off to sleep waking up every now and then with a few contractions. By 5:30 am I was very uncomfortable in bed and decided to go to the living room to watch T.V. I didn’t want to wake my husband and my son Jeremy who were still sound asleep in our room.

I sat quietly watching dating shows and infomercials, there is nothing on at 5:30 am Sunday morning! I rocked in our glider and continued to have contractions every 7-10 minutes lasting about 30 seconds each. At 7 am I needed to take a shower. My back was starting to hurt and I knew the hot water would help. I was also hoping I would wake the boys up so I could let them know we were probably going to add a new member to our family that day! I didn’t have any expectation about when the baby would come if it took 5 hours, great; if it took 3 days that would have to be great too. I needed to let go of control and just let my baby move down with each contraction. TRUST! Right! That is what I worked on; trust your body.

I was glad that when I got out of a very hot shower I heard my son’s sweet voice “Mommy, all done take a shower.” He was very happy to see me and I was glad they were awake. I sat on the edge of the bed and told my husband, Nate, that I had been having contractions since about 3 am. He said he knew something was up when I got out of bed at 5:30. He then got up on his knees and pretended to catch a baby and hand it to me. He looked at me and said “I’m ready, let’s do this.” We all got up and ate some eggs for breakfast. I sat on the couch and read to my son and laughed with my husband about what time was too early to call the birth team. Every time I had a contraction I would just sit quietly and think, “feel the baby move down.” It was a beautiful sunny day and I was in a very good mood.

I called my birth team at about 8:30 am and let them know what was happening. I told them I wanted to labor alone and I would keep them up to date. I snacked on peanut butter toast and granola bars. I was able to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated. The contractions kept coming. I decided to take a short nap at about 9:30 am. I was able to get some sleep between contractions. I cuddled in my king-size bed all by myself; normally we have my son, two dogs and the two of us. It was nice to have some space. I listened to a relaxation CD and rested thinking I can trust my body to move my baby down and make sure everything was in the right position. I woke up about an hour later with back labor and wanted to take another hot shower. After my shower I called the birth team to let them know that everything was still ok and I would call them a little later in the afternoon.

The family all had lunch together. Then we took my son down to the basement to watch the movie “Bolt.” He dosed on my lap toward to middle of the movie and my husband took him up to his bed for his afternoon nap. I rocked downstairs as we finished the movie. I watched the results for American Idol - I had to know who got kicked off that week. When we were done watching T.V. we came upstairs. It was about 2:00pm and I told Nate I had to lie down for a little while. I was able to sleep on and off for an hour. I woke up with really bad back pain. I looked at Nate and said, “I think I want to call my midwife.” He said, “Then let’s call!” I talked to her for a few minutes and told her I thought I needed support. She said she had been biting her lip all day and was so excited to come over. I told Nate she was on her way and I wanted him to start filling the birth pool.

At this point it was about 3:30pm and I had been laboring for about 12 hours. The contractions started to pick up and were now every 5 minutes lasting 50 seconds to 1 minute. I had to close my eyes and really concentrate on my breathing to get through each one. I sat in the 3-ring plastic baby pool with a padded inflatable floor and colorful fish on the side until my midwife arrived. I got out of the pool so she could listen to the baby and check my status. It was about 4:30 and my blood pressure was perfect, the baby’s heart rate was in the 130-140s and I was 8 cm dilated. She said “you are in labor and it looks like you are going to have a baby today.”

I went to sit on the toilet for a while and Nate drained about half the water in the pool and added hot water so I could get back in comfortably. I sat quietly in the bathroom listening to my midwife call her support midwife and Nate calling my doula. I laid my head against the bathroom wall and closed my eyes.

Each contraction was harder then the last and I tried to relax, breath and visualize my baby moving down lower in the birth canal. My son got up right before the midwife arrived after a 3-hour nap and was in a great mood. I loved listening to him running around playing. I wanted him to be around and be as involved in the birthing process as he wanted.

I was sitting alone taking in all the wonderful sounds of home when Nate came in to tell me that everyone was on their way and ask if he could do anything for me. I decided at that time I wanted to move back to the pool. I sat down and relaxed in the warm water. It was wonderful. My doula arrived and sat next to me by the pool. I remember talking to my midwife about bed size. We agreed you needed to have a king size, a queen just would not do. We also talked about where to find a good deal on California-king sheets. As the contractions intensified I just closed my eyes and breathed deeply, making sure my shoulders and body were relaxed through each one.

I had a wonderful doula for my son Jeremy who came over a few times during the previous month to really get to know him. She arrived and my son barely said two words to his dad he ran outside to play with her. My doula told me as soon as my son was taken care of and my husband was by my side my contractions really picked up. They became very intense and lasted longer. I had to moan and vocalize each contraction. I remember wanting to keep my eyes closed in between each one to help recover and prepare for the next. I threw up during my next set of contractions and my back started to really hurt. I was not comfortable sitting in the pool.

I turned over on to my hands and knees and laid my head on the side of the pool with my husband’s hands on my back and shoulders. My doula put hot washcloths on my back and shoulders and rubbed my back with oil to help me relax. I remember them telling me that the pain was normal and my body was doing just what it should be. I remember hearing my midwife say, “You are so brave for doing this.” It was the perfect thing to say to me for some reason. I remember thinking I am brave and I can do this. I have to do this. There is no way I am getting in a car or ambulance right now. I can’t even open my eyes. There is no magical surgeon to swoop in and take the pain away. That’s not what I want! Trust! Trust my body to do what it needs to do.

Looking back at one of the pictures I see that my midwife was holding my head and supporting me at 6:40 (on her watch). I asked my husband later, “If Cody was born at 6:57 where the heck were you at 6:40!!” He said “I had no idea you were that close and I needed to put the lasagna in the oven.” I had this crazy need to plan and make sure the lasagna was done for everyone to have dinner. He was just doing what I asked. HAHA.

Back at his post, supporting my head and whispering how much he loves me in my ear, I started feeling my body push. I remember thinking, “is this ok?” “Should I already be pushing?” I pushed for about 5 hours with Jeremy and I did NOT want to do that again. I went back to thinking TRUST! If my body needs to push, I need to push. I heard my sons voice near. I knew he was there. I wanted him there. My breathing slowed and I remembered to relax. I heard my midwife say, “whatever you are doing right now is perfect, you are opening beautifully. Just like the flower.” We had used the metaphor, open like a flower, naturally, slowly and in its own time.

I was trying to breath and remember that each contraction was bringing my baby closer. I needed to listen to what I was feeling and give in to it. Just let my body work to bring me my baby. I was crying a little and I kept saying, “it really hurts. REALLY, REALLY hurts!” Everyone reminded me “you are doing just what you should be. All those feeling are ok.” I heard my other midwife say, “do you want to reach down and feel the head?” “No! No,” I exclaimed. I don’t want to change anything or move my position. I knew I needed to be just how I was to deliver this baby. I was not moving!

I heard my midwife say you are close to holding your baby. I thought “yeah right she says that to everyone!” I felt a lot of pressure and burning. “It’s just the water sack you are going great,” she said. “If the water sack hurts like that how in the world am I going to push a baby out,” I thought to myself! “Oh, another contraction! Ouch!” Then it happened - I felt the baby come out. First his head and I pushed again and he slipped right out, like it was nothing! What it relief! I had a baby! I did it!! I flipped over immediately so I could hold my beautiful baby. In doing so I dunked him in the water and wrapped the cord around his neck. My midwife said, “Just hold on one second.” I had to see, I had to hold him and know what the sex was. As I pulled him to my chest I remember looking down and saying “We have a boy! We did it Cody, you and me!”

I felt Nate and Jeremy’s hands on me as they looked over my shoulder at our new little baby boy. Jeremy was there for the last 10 minutes and was able to see his little brother come into this world. Jeremy was calm and relaxed. I don’t want him to ever think birth is scary. He just kept saying, “Baby came out of mommy’s belly in the wawa,” (water in toddler). It was everything I needed it to be.

I delivered the placenta, Nate cut the cord and I got up to lay in bed with my two boys. Cody was born with the water sack around so no infections, blood mixing or bath to worry about. Native American legend says that if a baby is born with the water sack intact the baby will be a healer. How appropriate. He has already helped my family heal and I know that we were right to believe in natural birth and trust my body.

I took a shower and put on my clean nightgown. I climbed into bed just as they weighed my 9lb 2oz boy. He was 21 inches and perfect. Everyone held Cody and enjoyed lasagna. It was 10:00pm and my house was clean; clean sheets, dishes washed and dirty laundry in the machine. The birth team left and I was in bed nursing my new baby boy and holding my other son as we all drifted off to sleep.


Prudence Magnolia Love – December 30th

Our Water Baby HBA2C (Home Birth After Two Cesareans)

written by Lucinda Halloran

So for the longest time, I've been putting off our daughter Prudence's birth story. I wasn't exactly sure why because it was such a great story to tell. I guess the only thing I can say is, when it's the right time, it's the right time. So here we go!

With Prudence, I labored off and on for about 4 days before she was born. It is also known as "prodromal labor.’” I remember distinctly the night after Christmas, while in the kitchen making tea, I rubbed my belly and said okay Prudence whenever you are ready.

Sure enough at around 2am on the 26th of December the surges began. I woke Adam (hubby) just to give him a heads up that that they had started. They weren't super heavy, but I could tell they were doing something. They continued the same pattern for the next 4 days. They would start up at night and taper off by noon the next day. It was a bit discouraging at first, but only because I was excited for this brand new journey I was beginning. When it started, I had this expectation that it meant I'd have a babe within the next day or so at least. What I didn't know was that my body had a different agenda.

After a couple of days of laboring off and on, my wonderful midwife Jill and her assistant Sarah (who happened to be my local ICAN chapter leader) came over one morning to check on me and give me a little spiritual boost. It didn't take much from them because their presence alone was enough to remind me that everything was going just fine - and I soon realized that this was just the way I was meant to labor. This was what my body needed to do. I know now that this very thing was most likely the reason the first two of my pregnancies didn't have the outcome that I had wanted. We worked on some visuals and birth art and it everything just came together for me and made perfect sense. After that, when the night hit, I welcomed the surges even more, and relaxed during the day, when I had some off time.

The night of the 29th I had gone to my parents’ house to celebrate the holidays with my brother and his family, who are from out of town. I remember being pretty cranky and feeling sick. I thought I might be coming down with something. I ended up going home and just wanted to lie around.

At about 11:30 pm, I decided to finally take a nap on the couch while hubby relaxed and watched some television. Well, no sooner than 5 minutes after lying down I felt a pop. I knew instantly what it was and told hubby what had just happened. I stand up and he asks me if I was sure. I said I was positive because I felt the trickle of fluid as soon as I was in the upright position. I then made my way to the bathroom to clean myself up and give Jill a ring. She reminded me that sometimes even after your water breaks it could be hours or even longer before anything starts happening. I know she was just making sure I prepared myself in case I had a good amount of time before the babe made her appearance. She said she would get herself ready and to call if anything changes.

No sooner that I hang up the phone BAM! (Ha-ha, there's honestly no better way to explain it.) The surges start coming one after another and they. are. strong! I call Sarah and let her know. She asks if I would like her to come over. I immediately say yes because I knew I would need the support. After that my memory gets a little fuzzy for a bit. What I do remember for sure is at one point telling hubby that he had to start blowing up the pool and getting the water in, so that I could use it to labor. If you know me, then you aren't surprised that I waited to the very last minute to have that done. I also have to add that Adam had been sick for a few days beforehand. So the poor guy, who was super congested already, had to sit there and hurry to blow up the pool by mouth (cause we're awesome and never even considered getting an air pump, haha.) He told me awhile later that there were several times where he felt like he was going to pass out. Yikes! (Love you babe!)

While Adam takes care of that, I start pacing from the living room to the kitchen. For quite a while it seemed that the only way to ease the pain was to do that, and to continuously hum "dear prudence" to my baby girl. Sarah had arrived pretty quickly and right away started to tell me how wonderful I was doing, which was great to hear because to me this was uncharted territory. [I'm pretty sure at some point she called Jill to let her know it was time.] I continue to pace and hum until it doesn't seem to be helping anymore. I then decide to move to the bathroom again.

Once I'm back in there is when Jill arrives. I remember standing in the bathroom in the dark and wanting no one around me. I just needed to let my body take over. The feeling of what I was going through was incredibly intense. I felt my babe’s body moving down further and further. I began to make these sounds that were so different. I believe it was then that I started to transition so Jill asks if I wanted to try out the pool. When getting in I take a glance at the clock and notice it was around 3:30am. As soon as I'm all the way in I took my hubby's hand laid back and continued to let me body take me where it needed to go.

It wasn't very long before things started to change significantly. I thought before that my body was awesome, well now it just started pushing all on its own! I wasn't intentionally pushing her out. There was no "okay, push, 1, 2, 3 Lamaze kind of stuff going on. I was merely a passenger. My body knew EXACTLY what to do and was doing it. I am in such complete awe of what our bodies are capable of!

I'll tell you now why this was all new to me. It was because my first two babes were brought into this world so completely different. The first two "attempts" I had made at a natural birth both ended in cesarean. The doctors of course told me that my best bet would be to stick with cesareans if I planned on having any more children. They told me numerous times that my pelvis was too small for a baby to pass through. I knew better though. I didn't feel like what they were telling me was right. It felt like a cop-out. I did my research which led me to where I was now, in a pool, my body birthing my daughter the way it was meant to.

After Jill and Sarah caught Prudence, the only thing that repeatedly ran through my head was "I'm not broken, I'm not broke, I'm not broken!" And you know honestly, from the beginning I had no doubt in myself. I knew that I could birth her the way I wanted, no the way I needed to, but still the second she was born, it was proof.

Prudence Magnolia Love swam earthside at 4:00am, and the moment that consumes my every thought when I think of her birth is what happened right after. As they helped me bring her up to my chest there was this peacefulness. The birthing process for her was so calm, almost uneventful if that makes any sense. It's as if she didn't even realize that her surroundings had changed. She hadn't taken her first breath yet, was still receiving the remainder of oxygen and blood that she needed from the placenta, and lay there completely still. It's a picture that I can't do justice to with words. There was no worry or rush for her to be taken away from me. She didn't need patted on the back, or suctioned or anything else for that matter. There was no need for anything else to be happening. She was welcome to do everything at her own pace.

When she was ready she let out a little gasp, gave her first breath, and then out came the tiniest cry. I kissed her and said "why hello there.” Even with this being our 3rd babe, I couldn't believe that my husband and I made this perfect little being. The whole experience was just surreal and I glance over at my husband and with just one look I could tell how proud he was of me.


Miles' Birth Story - March 18

written by Sarah Imig

My son will be turning 4 next week, and still, to this very day, I feel like I'm riding along on my "VBAC" high. His birth would not have changed me the way it did if I hadn't had my daughter, Ava, first by Cesarean. I will start by sharing some of her birth story.

Ava's birth was planned to be an unmedicated hospital birth. I was about a week post-due-date when our provider started pressuring us to induce, and our once enjoyable relationship turned into a stressed, distrustful mess. That same day she violated our trust during a rough internal exam and gave us an ultimatum to choose to go to the hospital immediately and induce or drink Castor oil. We chose the latter, however, it was a poor choice in retrospect because I feel it led to a difficult labor and thick meconium found later in labor. I was given very little support by my provider and the hospital staff, and eventually pushed against an unopen cervix, swelled and regressed, and was swayed into a Cesarean. I also suffered from a spinal headache and hallucinations following the anesthesia. The year that followed was one of the most difficult of my life, and I knew that I would never put myself or my baby through a situation like that again.

By the time my husband and I had decided to expand our family, I was sure in my heart that I wanted a VBAC and felt empowered by the research and reading I had done. I began to look for a midwife, and when I first spoke with Jill, I felt instantly connected to her warm spirit and knew she would be a special person in my life.

My pregnancy was wonderful. I was sometimes scared, and Jill would reassure me and even came to check on me and the baby when I had some frighteningly strong round-ligament pain mid-pregnancy. Her faith never wavered in me, and that helped me trust my body more and more, as the big day approached.

Although I had many warm-up contractions the weeks preceding his birth, it was not until about a week past my due date again that things really got started. It was St. Patrick's Day when I woke up and knew that today was different. I had a much heavier feeling in my pelvis and hips, and the surges were stronger than they had been. I also lost some pinky mucous and felt even more reassured that things were starting. My husband's friend came over with his baby boy, and I played with him some, feeling strongly that I would have a boy.

Some time passed, and I was getting antsy...I wanted to go to the Co-op and get some last-minute water!!! We all went and I walked around the store telling everyone I knew that I was laboring a bit and laughed at the faces they made...perhaps that they expected my water to drop all over the floor or something! We left and on the way home, my husband, Iggy, stopped to return something. It was really like a normal day, except that I was laboring a little, and I think it helped us pass time and not get too focused on the labor's length. After that I was feeling like we needed to go home--probably an intuition that things were going to get tougher soon. Iggy went to get a pizza and dropped Ava and I off at home. I put some music on--my Dad's Latin-jazz cd---and danced with Ava. We both needed to use the bathroom at the same time, so I let her go first. While she was on there I had a whopper contraction and almost freaked out, but I took some deep breaths and got through it. I took that as a sign to call Jill! :) She told me to get comfy and she'd be there soon.

After I ate my pizza (not the best labor food!!!) I put on my hypnobirthing tapes and would listen to them in my headset through each contraction. Jill and her assistant came and we spent some time just like that, in the living room. After some time, I felt like we should try to put Ava to bed, so we tried that and failed! Ava was onto us, and knew something big was happening!

I opted for a bath then because my labor was getting intense, and stayed there for quite a while, while Iggy and Jill spent time with me. Ava would come in sometimes and pour water over my little helper. We relocated to our bed eventually and soon I felt things getting really intense and started pushing a little. That was the only time I had an exam--probably because I wanted reassurance that I was complete given my last birth experience. Then I became a total warrior and started roaring and yelling as I pushed.

This part of labor was the hardest for me. I felt like I wanted it to be over, and I had managed to be really relaxed up until that point, but then I just wanted to push that kid OUT!!! My team was great. Ava was still hanging in there until my water splashed her in the face, and then she looked like a deer in headlights and went to sleep in the living room. I guess she'd had enough!

Miles was born at 2:35am on March 18th, after about an hour and 1/2 of pushing in bed and on the birth stool. He was born with his hand on his cheek into the arms of his daddy by candlelight. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. My son was 8 lbs. 10 oz., bigger than his sister, which proved the "CPD" as reason for my Cesarean to be wrong. I healed wonderfully, quickly, and happily. I had a tiny tear that healed on its own and believe me, it was nothing compared to healing from major surgery!

I cannot say enough good things about my experience with Jill. I feel blessed that she came into my life and was present for such an important rite of passage for me. She watched over me with the watchful, continuous care that only a homebirth midwife could give, and helped me to have a safe and happy pregnancy and birth. 


Baby Mathilda - March 15th

written by Justine Julian

Thursday March 13th Our Due Date: I woke up in a total funk today. Nobody knows more than I do that due dates are suggestions, not rules. Intellectually I can accept this today. Emotionally, however, this realization sends me over the edge. I did everything right. I ate right. I gained the right amount of weight. I went to all of my prenatal appointments. I took the right vitamins. I believe the right things about birth and babies and parenting. I want to be rewarded for doing things right, dammit. That IS how it works here in America, right? (okay that might be a bit facetious, sorry) I decide to spend the entire day pouting and wallowing in self pity since no one could possibly feel as sorry for me as I feel for me. My cankles are huge. My feet hurt when I bear weight on them. My hands swell when I...well, when I do absolutely anything. This child's head is literally taking up every bit of available space in my pelvis which leaves room for about ½ teaspoon of pee. The biggest of my big maternity clothes no longer have the capacity to expand over the belly. I have become some monstrous caricature of a pregnant woman: a barefoot, swollen, waddling, nearly naked, puffy faced, screeching like some crazy Medusa-headed Harpe, who will never, ever, ever, go into labor. I will be pregnant forever-- or at least long enough to make the skin on my feet explode while they wheel me into the OR for the miracle of my MRSA infested surgical birth. Then I will finally have the c-section that everyone will console me about while not so secretly scolding me for selfishly thinking that I had what it might take to pull off an empowering, healing, society-defying homebirth. Childbirth sucks for a reason, right? How dare I be arrogant enough to think that I could escape what our society has planned for me?

I have my daughter take a picture of my giant, distended, deformed belly to post on my website with some words that make it sound like I am a gracious, reasonable human being who values all human life. Because exposing the real feelings would force people to medicate me, and at this juncture, I might let them.

I vaguely recall some words of wisdom from my midwife...something about when you feel pretty angry and awful about being pregnant that it is just about time to have the baby. I laugh a joyless laugh, then wordlessly and viciously elbow my husband for taking up some of my 3/4 of the bed.

I finally give up my passive aggressive campaign to punish...something midnight on the dot and end the 13th on a bitter, bitter note.

Friday March 14th Early Morning:

12:19am. (yes, i mean 19 minutes after I gave in to sleep): Ow! Contraction? Well, that can't be since I will never go into labor.

12:24am. Another one? That was five minutes. Impossible.

12:29am. Third one. Not a pattern, necessarily. Now the bed is all uncomfortable and David is taking up more than his fair share of the 1/4 allotted to him. I have to get up. Which takes about 3 minutes to execute with all of the huffing and puffing and grunting.

12:34am. Walking around the room I get another one. Four in row is nothing at all and proves even less.

These alleged contractions continue: just uncomfortable enough to keep me shifting position, pacing, and angrily glaring at my sleeping husband, but not enough to convince me that I might be in labor.

3:30am. I run a warm bubble bath and drink a tall glass of water. The contractions continue to intensify. I wrap up in my fuzzy robe and migrate to the recliner and rock until I fall asleep.

4:30am. Ow! I can't possibly sleep through that. I go to run another bath since that seemed to make me feel better. While the water is running, I attempt to coax a tinkle out (the old slumber party trick?) and instead find a mucous plug. Yikes. As excited as I am to see what is considered to be progress, I am pretty skeeved out by my first glimpse of a mucous plug. It took four babies to finally see one. I could have skipped it. The bath is not nearly as satisfying as the first one was.

7:15am. Called midwife to tell her to forget our 10:00am appointment since I "might" have to call her later for a birth...maybe. I wouldn't want her to make two trips. I feel like I have jinxed it already by saying anything.

Later That Same Day:

Noon. Well it has been 12 hours and these are not getting any closer together, which means that I am not progressing, which means that I am not in labor. Actually, now that I have bothered to pay attention, they are sort of getting further apart sometimes. 5 minutes becomes 8, and then back to 6, and up to 9, then back to 5. Forget it. I am going to watch movies and rock in the recliner all day because i seem to have an urge to do that and the alternative is to clean my house, which I am not on board with at all. But at least I am definitely NOT in labor. Good to know.

10:51pm. I feel bad for canceling my pre-natal with the midwives and telling them to be on standby. They probably had things to do with their kids, or things to do at all other than hang around waiting for the miracle of my labor to begin...since I know for a fact that I will never go into labor despite having had three previous pregnancies which DID eventually progress to the point of labor, and even childbirth. So I send them an email to rid myself of guilt and to let them off the hook...again.

          Subject: So what is up with Justine?

          I'm sure this is the question on your minds right now.

The answer is...these contractions hurt like hell and practically leave me on the floor gasping. But they are all over the place. 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 4 minutes, 15 minutes, 3 minutes, 20 minutes...the only constant is that they are consistently about 2 minutes long. They don't change in intensity depending on what i am doing...but they DO slow down or speed up. I was in the recliner and i was having them every 5 minutes for about 2 hours, then i got up and had 2 at 3 minutes...then they petered out to 7 and 10 minutes when i was walking around and getting a drink.

I'm not at all certain whether or not my water broke...i might have felt a bit of a gush on the potty around 1pm today--but nothing since. Now, after this, the intensity of the discomfort DID increase, but the timing has never established a pattern, so i am really unwilling to cal it "real" When i do have a contraction i feel as though i could push her out if i was willing to do anything that painful and strenuous...i have no desire do just builds an enormous amount of pressure with the contraction. No more bloody show after this mornings gore fest.

So i will give you a call Jill, if it looks like these things establish any kind of a pattern, or if a baby is hanging out of me. We are doing just fine here...going about the normal day, except me raising my finger to indicate no one should talk to me for a minute. Bug holds my hand like a dear mini-doula. She is so sweet. Right now, i want to try to get some rest and maybe have something to eat that is made of chocolate :)

11:30pm. Having found zero edible things in my house that even came close to being made from anything resembling chocolate, I request that my husband fetch me some tasty, healthy, nutritious, things from the store. He makes some attempt to wiggle out of it by pointing out that it is almost midnight and that I might be insane, or something along those lines. Well, that is what I hear anyway.

March 15th, 12:45am. After David returns from the store, I am too tired to eat. I decide to run a bath instead.

1:30am. It has been over 24 hours now since I started feeling these "cramps." This thought creates a sense of panic and despair. Watching David sleep somehow manages to infuriate me to the point of madness. I leave the room and rock in the recliner until the springs squeak and I am seriously risking being the first woman to be charged with Shaken Baby Syndrome pre-natally. These crampy Braxton-Hickes (they are not contractions) are really taking up a significant portion of my resources. However, punishing the chair seems somehow childish and ineffective. I decide that pacing will certainly provide the comfort and satisfaction I crave.

1:32am. Back in the recliner. Pacing sucks.

5:00am. I wake David up to tend to the fire because it is frigid in our house...and I really cannot stand another minute of someone sleeping while I am awake.

5:50am. As a reward for his alpha-male, wood-chopping, Keeper of the Family Hearth actions, I show him the newest discovery in the bathroom. Yet another mucous plug! He remains almost entirely non-plussed. That is odd. He had seemed a bit sad that he had missed the last one. He usually loves it when I share some personal, embarrassing, previously unbeknownst-to-him tidbit about myself. This time, however, he really lacked the kind of enthusiasm I generally like to see in shared bathroom situations. He requests to be allowed to return to bed.

7:00am. So, after an hour of grunting, groaning, tossing, turning, madness I sigh heavily enough to wake the dead (but not my husband) and decide to clean. This is not out of a sense of nesting instinct...that burst of energy came and went a full two weeks ago. No, this is something simpler. I am bored. I am bored with looking at the clock and with consistently finding that the intervals of time do not ever create a pattern.

7:10am. I've done some laundry. Which (in our our house) translates into adding soap to the wet, previously washed load that was already abandoned in the washer. After that - I decide that no amount of boredom will really motivate me to clean.

7:40am. I have checked all of my email accounts, read all of the blogs I like to read, and Googled "Signs of labor" which don't tell me anything that I couldn't already write an entire novel about. The "crampy sensations in my uterus" are still there. Now however, they have this twinge of new pain I haven't had before. It feels like a thin rod of burning pain is connecting my cervix to my lower back. hey Tillie, get off my tail bone, please? I have to breathe through them using my Hypnobirthing techniques. It does work to keep me relaxed, but it does not take away the pain. I just makes it more dignified to deal with it.

7:52am. I send the midwives another email :

Well, i did manage to sneak some sleep in between some of this...20 minutes here and 10 minutes here. I do feel better for having some rest, but man, this sure is tough! I guess it is meant to be, otherwise we would have litters and the whole parental investment thing would be worth a whole lot less.

I will keep in contact with you today on and off, just letting you know how things are going. I lost more mucous plug last night...shared my findings with David who was not as impressed as he had hoped he would be by mucous plug. There still is no pattern to these contractions to speak of, which has me very frustrated--and a bit worried. If this is just prodromol stuff, and I'm already struggling, then what might be in store for the real deal? Tillie has been super quiet thru all of this, which i guess i expected, but also has me poking and prodding her a lot. In a bit of good news though, I busted into my stash of labor food and am loving the dried pineapple chunks! :) I'm trying to find the positives!

It is wonderful knowing you are available...but that you don't have to be here necessarily. I would feel like a watched kettle if you were just here sitting around when it doesn't really feel like a birthing environment quite yet. I think we are still wondering whether or not this is just another false alarm...we are a little gun shy after the previous near birth experience. i feel conflicted about wanting to be assessed so i can "know" something definitive, but I am also very content here in our cocoon...and basically i am off by myself which i really like. All of my labors i have been surrounded by people, and this time i really don't even want David trying to provide comfort measures. I want to be in a dark room and just cope. I know it is wearing on him though...he feels useless and has taken up a computer project which is now spread all over my house and kinda has me irked since he is devoting energy to that instead of to handling issues with the kids. I will bring it up today instead of fuming from afar about it. Perhaps we just need to get back on the same page and re-connect. I'm sure this is not easy to watch for him.

A thousand heart-felt thank yous for listening and thinking of me...i'm excited to meet Mathilda, but it still feels surreal that a baby will be here after all of this!

BTW Contractions seem to have picked up while writing this...i've had like 5 of them since starting this email.

Okay, i am going to see if i can pee like a normal feels like I constantly have to "get something out of my body" but my body is very unclear about what signals it is is just a jumbled up bunch of nerve endings sending all kinds of erroneous info 'cuz evidently my pelvis wasn't designed for long-term infant cranial storage.

8:10am. A lot more mucous plug...actually, I'm sort of fascinated. i try to envision what must be happening to my body to cause this: my cervix must be doing something, but what?

9:00am. I try to sit on the yoga ball for awhile, but it really makes me more crampy and my back ache has intensified. A warm shower should do the trick. And besides, I need to make myself presentable. It is likely that I will have to reschedule my appointment with the midwives for later today since I needed to see them for my check up and I am not going into "real labor" anytime soon, obviously.

10:00am. I am freshly showered, exfoliated and groomed. I feel presentable and human once again. David has prepared a delicious and nutritious breakfast for me--a Greek omelet, veggie sausage, and orange juice...I feel sick eating it. He takes it personally.

10:40am. We mutually come to the decision to have a fight about it.

11:00am. I am laying in the bed with my elaborately arranged pile of pillows and cushions when David comes in to apologize. Or that is how I hear it anyway.

11:15am. David has given up trying the different massage techniques for relieving my back pain because I am complaining despite his efforts. He asks me to call the midwives. I say, no way am I embarrassing myself by calling them out and hour and half away for a false labor. Decide to take a rest instead.

11:20am. I was so tired that I actually dozed off within 5 minutes only to be ripped from that blissful moment by a gut-busting "crampy uterine sensation." That is not a nice way to wake up, I had no warning that it was coming. With all the other ones i feel it tightening up before the "rod of pain" moment hit so that I could take the time to use my relaxation techniques.

11:25am. I still haven't gotten out of bed when another one hits...but the "rod of pain" feels more like a paper towel roll sized rod now.

11:30am. Another one. And I really am using 99% of my resources to deal with the intensity of it. That is 3 in a row at 5 minutes. Well, I already have proof that it means nothing.

Noon. It has now been about 36 hours and nothing has really taken on a regular pattern. We discuss what might be going on. Either we have been in real labor, and if that is the case, then we might be getting closer than we suspect. Or the other scenario is that labor is irregular because there is a complication. We toss around the idea of calling our midwives...but the thought of having them come all the way out here to tell me that I am having some "great warming up contractions" but that "nothing is changing with the cervix" just makes me cringe. I am supposed to know something about childbirth! Being wrong--or worse yet-- appearing to be ignorant about what real labor is or isn't would just be too big of a blow to my already fragile ego at this point. I decide to take another bath and relax while I mull it over.

1:30pm. David takes the kids to the store with him to get some essentials while I pace (of course, I mean waddle) around the house.

2:00pm. When they return, things have gotten intense enough that I decide we need to call the midwives and have them come over to at least check on the baby. The idea of calling them over for the baby, not me, seems to ease my guilt somehow. I'm just a concerned mother, not a hysterically hormonal pregnant lady.

2:15pm. But the house needs to be straightened up before we can have people over. And I wanted the floor under the birthing pool to be vacuumed. And we need to put on the sheets I have set aside for the birth. And we can't have all that trash on the porch. And did anyone check the mail today?

4:00pm. I finally deem the house acceptable to invite the midwives over.

4:04pm . I take a deep breath in between contractions and dial Jill's number. This is it. I can't undo this phone call. Once I say "I think this might be it--maybe we should check on the baby to make sure she is okay?" I can't take it back. This one phone call will set in motion a chain of events that I am responsible for. She has to make arrangements for her kids, load up her stuff, turn off the casserole she was preparing, reschedule all of the other pregnant women who may actually really need her today, cancel her plans to have a long anticipated romantic date night with her husband...well, I don't know if she had all that planned or not...but she could have and I am about to make it all come to a screeching halt because "Justine is feeling a little crampy"

4:05pm. How anti-climatic. I got her voice mail.

4:10pm. Of course she calls me right back and reassures me that she has been waiting for my call and I get the impression that she won't have to cancel her entire life after she gets off the phone. As a matter of fact, she sounds a bit excited. I don't make it through the whole phone call without a contraction. David finishes up the conversation.

4:13pm. Magically, they are coming about every 3-4 minutes now. Our midwives are an hour and a half away. Perhaps we waited too long to call? I know we talked about what it would be like to birth unassisted, but am I really prepared for it? I can handle laboring on my own...and I know what to do (or not to do) after the birth...but can I handle birth on my own? Well, David is here, I wouldn't be on my own. I feel better knowing that. I really do think we could do this on our own...but only if we have to.

4:30pm. I enjoy spending time in the baby's room when I have a contraction. It is bright, open and clean in there. I am not hounded by an obsessive-compulsive desire to straighten up or to rearrange anything while I am in here. It has been newly redecorated and it feels un-lived in as of yet; unoccupied. I know that our baby won't spend much time in here in practice, but in my current state of mind, I am comforted by the sights and smells of infant-related consumer goods.

5:00pm. David has found the perfect acupressure points on my lower back. I feel more in control of the contractions at this point. I make a mental note that since I called Jill, I feel much better. The "rod of pain" has all but vanished. I feel a tremendous tightening, but very little pain--or even discomfort. Perhaps the acupressure has eliminated my perception of the sensations and has made it easier to cope with? Or perhaps I have finally relaxed and accepted that this is labor?

5:15pm. Jill calls en route for an update. David speaks with her. I'm not really paying attention but am curious about how far away she is. I don't feel that birth is imminent or anything, but it does feel as if there will be a direct correlation between her arrival and Mathilda's--almost like her presence will give Mathilda (or me?) permission to fully let go and surrender to this process. Well, duh, why didn't I call earlier if I believed that? We could have had Mathilda in our arms hours ago if all I needed was permission. Well, the truth is, I just now realized how much I must have been fighting before, because what I am doing now is oddly rewarding and satisfying, not at all scary or full of pain. No, this is right. Mathilda will arrive at the perfect time.

5:30pm. I have unconsciously been using some vocalization during my contractions--making an open mouthed sound like an ahhhh or an ohhhh with my exhalations. I'm aware that I am making the noises, but not making the choice to make them. I feel more and more of my actions are an auto-pilot. There is something very liberating about this process. And it is now crystal clear to those around me when a contraction has begun, so the vocalization also serves to create the ideal environment for me to attain a deeper level of relaxation with every contraction.

5:40pm. Jill has arrived and is setting up her gear...oxygen gets tucked into the corner, the sterile clamps and scissors for the cord go on top of my dresser. I tell her that I am a little "miffed" that my contractions had been so intense and although now they are better since I am trying to work with them and accept that they are moving my baby down, I am nonetheless wishing they would stop. Jill reminds me that I have to go though it to get through it.

5:45pm. Fiona Apple is playing on the "Birth Mix" and Eudora is holding my hands while we slow dance to Across the Universe. Jill presents a bouquet of softly colored lolli-pops for me to choose from. I find a white one that looks promising. Yes! A ginger flavored Preggo Pop. Could this be more perfect?

5:50pm. Jill takes my blood pressure (116/74) and listens to Tillie's heart tones which are a perfect 140-150 bpm. We then decide to do the first pelvic exam of my entire pregnancy. This is the part where I get very nervous. Not because I have a problem with pelvic exams per se, but because historically, this is the part in my previous labors where my care-provider usually shakes their head and says something like "Well, you are only 2-3cms, 50% effaced, and the baby is still very posterior and up high. You're going to be here awhile. Perhaps we should go ahead and get some Pitocin started?"

6:00pm. I'm shocked. Jill tells me that I am 6cms, 75% effaced and at zero station! I really cannot believe this. I have been in labor all this time! I called the midwives at just the right time! I didn't embarrass myself by calling days before I needed them, or insisting that I was in labor when I wasn't. This realization gives me a great deal of confidence in my ability to read my body's cues. Confidence. Now, there is a word I haven't been on familiar terms with in my previous labors. I can feel the hormonal high beginning to spread throughout my body.

6:05pm. I tell David to get the birthing pool filled. It really hits me--I am really going to have this baby!

6:06pm. I instruct Gabriella to call Nanny Featherbottom--the affectionate nickname we have for our best friend, Kelley, who will be in charge of Eudora-wrangling for the birth. Jill gives Jen a call around this time, too. I try not to read too much into that--does it mean that Jill thinks I am close?

6:10pm. I get into the birthing pool even though it is far from full yet. Instantly, the intensity of the contractions recedes by 80%. This, along with relaxation, confidence, and my ginger pop are making labor a pleasant endeavor. I am joking and laughing and talking in between contractions. Already this is shaping up to be a wonderful experience. I thank my lucky stars that I am in my home, surrounded by people I love and trust.

6:20pm. Jill checks on Tillie with the Doppler again; 136-144 bpm. My contractions are about 2-3 minutes apart...but I hardly feel them at this point. Or at least I hardly register them as painful if I am feeling them. Birthing pools rock.

6:30pm. I am continuing with my vocalizations and they lend a bit of sacredness to the proceedings. We will be having a conversation and I will inhale deeply and slowly--drawing air all the way into by belly. The conversation falls silent and everyone's focus is with me. On the exhale, I open my throat and allow the air to leave just as slowly as I drew it in. That openness reflects what I hope is going on with my cervix. David is running the warm water over my belly which feels divine and also allows me to envision the muscles of my torso, abdomen and uterus as fluid, soft, and warm. The tension melts and I feel my body's efforts to move the baby down--centimeters at a time-- a feeling that would be imperceptible if I were fighting.

6:50pm. My uterine surges (that word describes them much better at this point than calling them contractions) are 2 minutes apart now. Jill checks on Tillie again in between them. She is in the 140's. I have a Fun-Noodle Pool Floatie as an arm and head rest (the wisest $1.50 we have ever spent) to keep me above the water while I allow my legs, hips and lower back to be totally submerged in the warm water. This is heavenly and I feel Tillie move down, down, down with each and every surge.

7:00pm. Nanny Featherbottom has arrived and is successfully entertaining Eudora. I am really impressed with how well our four year old is handling everything. I have to attribute it to the preparation we did beforehand--explaining who would be there for the birth, what kinds of noises she would here, what things would look like. She isn't a bit surprised at anything that is going on.

7:10pm. It was bound to happen sooner or later since it happened with all of my other labors; nausea. Along with it comes a marked increases in pressure. Tillie is closer than ever--and the nausea usually means one thing-- transition. I'm impressed that Kelley's first few minutes of witnessing my labor include vomiting. Boy, I bet she can't wait to do this someday. Nice timing- I've managed to turn someone off of homebirth!

7:45pm. Just as Jen arrives, I experience the most incredibly overwhelming sensation. It is a hybrid of Invasion of the Body Snatchers orgasm? I have been using my vocalizations, my hypnobirthing relaxation techniques, and rotating my hips in the water to move the baby down with each uterine surge. But this sensation is so overwhelming that all of those techniques are out of the window for the duration of the contraction. It is an odd mix of "Oh my god, this is so out of control!" and "Wow, if i simply surrender this would happen without my interference." Jill tries to check on Tillie with the Doppler, but she is so much lower than last time that it takes us a few minutes. She is doing just fine in the 130-140 range.

8:15pm. Still in the pool and my focus now is to try to be as relaxed as possible so that my body can do this with as little interference from me as possible. When I am totally able to surrender, I can feel the tiniest shift in Mathilda's position and I have complete faith that we are doing this! The other thing that is aiding me significantly is the music I have chosen for my Birth Mix. We put it together about 4 weeks ago, and whenever I was practicing my relaxation breathing, or doing trial runs in the birthing pool I would try to listen to it so that the association between relaxation and the music would be firmly implanted in my subconscious. Feist, Sade, Cowboy Junkies, The Innocence Mission, Broken Social Scene, Holly Cole, KD Lang, Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann...these are my birth companions and we are on fairly familiar terms at this point.

8:30pm. I am struggling to find a position that I am comfortable in. Well, comfortable is not accurate. I know that I won't be entirely comfortable, but I feel as if every position I get into is simply NOT going to work for birthing the baby. I had envisioned using a supported upright position to birth Tillie so that I could use gravity to bring her down and also have my hands free to catch her--but that doesn't seem to be working. I try leaning over the side of the tub. No go. On my side. Nope. Some orange juice makes me feel a little better.

8:45pm. Some more vomiting. Orange juice isn't so great coming back up. I try to see this as a good thing--or as good as one can see vomiting as being, I suppose. I know that this is my body's way of ridding itself of tension and I welcome the help...however, I do wish there weren't 5 people watching me hurl into a bowl while I hang over the side of a plastic pool. Afterward, I explain to Kelley and to my 13 year old daughter, that I hope this all doesn't look too horrid because it really isn't...I describe the physical sensations that I am having as "commandingly intense", but not painful. They make some noises about understanding and how well I am doing. We'll have to wait until they are pregnant someday to see if they are convinced or not.

9:00pm. Things are picking up significantly. I guess the puking really did release some tension. The surges are less than 2 minutes apart and are lasting for 90 seconds. The midwives ask if I would like to try to go pee. Since I have so little time in between contractions, I decide to hop out of the tub to quickly make it to the bathroom and back. David jumps to attention and escorts me...but we don't make it the 10 feet down the hall before I have another one. I manage to pee, but have a contraction immediately afterward. I make it back to the doorway to our bedroom for the next one and wrap my arms arms around David's neck and lean into him for support. I don't make it back into the pool.

9:08pm. I waddle over to the bed to try resting for a few minutes in between contractions. I try a few sitting up on the bed and decide that it is NOT the position I want to be in any more. The midwives suggest laying on my left side. I try one like that and know within 5 seconds that I never want to be in that position ever again! I feel like I am swimming up current...up a waterfall!

9:15pm. I grab every pillow within my reach and make a mountain in the center of the bed to lean into. On my knees, I feel that I am upright enough to allow gravity to assist me, but the pillows give me a place to rest if I need it. David is on my left. Jill is on my right. Jen is facing me. I am aware of their presence and support, but feel as though I am a million miles from this room, from them, from all of this. I hear my vocalizations from far away and they sound like echoes of someone singing. Jill quietly gets the birthing equipment ready.

9:45pm. Jen or Jill checks on Tillie and she is holding steady in the high 130's. I feel we are both weathering this process very well. Despite being in the zone, and not feeling very connected with the real world, I am really very upbeat, happy, and excited. I feel myself involuntarily bearing down with the contractions at this point. I have one hand on David's shoulder, the other on my belly. I ask Mathilda to move down. I tell her it is okay and that we are ready for her. I say these things out loud and as soon as I do, I feel a very significant change in the sensations...a tremendous vocalization becomes longer, more drawn out, and changes pitch. We are very close.

9:55pm. I lean into the pillows for a small reprieve, but am drawn upward almost immediately by the next contraction. As soon as I grab onto David's shoulder, my water breaks. David, who has as much birth knowledge as any doula announces that it is "copious, clear fluid" which means that there is no meconium staining and that our baby is not in any distress. And also verifies that my 20 week sonogram results (from the OB I had fired before transferring to midwifery care) of "low amniotic fluid" were a complete misdiagnoses. I feel Mathilda slide down with the gush of fluid. The contractions are 1 minute apart. She is almost here!

10:04pm. I hear Feist playing on the Birth Mix. I sense my body gently pushing Mathilda out. I know that I am grabbing on to David's shoulder fairly hard. But I feel as though I am perfectly still and all is quiet. Like in music videos where the artist is standing perfectly still on a crowded street while life rushes by. Or more appropriately, this is how I imagine very deep meditation must feel. I am perfectly still and my mind. I am totally focused on this instant and no other.

10:05pm. I reach down and feel Mathilda's soft head. She has hair. I ask David if he would like to touch our baby. He leans close and presses his face against my cheek while he makes contact with his new daughter for the very first time. All three of us share our first moment as a family.

10:10pm. I am allowing my body and Mathilda decide how quickly things progress. I am in no hurry to endure a perineal tear, instead I let the ebb and flow of my contractions bring her closer and closer. I ask for Gabriella to come back into the room so she can take the first pictures of her new baby sister. I tell them to wait on telling Eudora until Tillie is actually born in case it gets too intense.

10:12pm. Gabriella barely gets the camera tuned .. Tillie's head emerges. I was waiting for it to hurt A LOT...but her head just popped out with a tiny bit of burning/stretching sensation. "She's out!" I exclaim --more surprised than I thought I would be. I look over at David who is crying and smiling at the same time.

10:13pm. One little push and her shoulders and the rest of her body are propelled out at what seems like an incredible speed! I'm grateful that Jill is ready for this likelihood! I suppose I imagined her emerging slowly so that I would have time to help catch her. Jill tells me to reach down and pick up my baby. She is the most incredibly soft thing I have ever had the privilege to touch. She is perfectly pink and is making the tiniest little mewling noises. "You're a real baby!" I announce... which I am sure petrifies her-- what the heck did I think she was going to be? Certainly she must be questioning whether or not I am really the most qualified care-provider for her after hearing such a thing.

10:14pm. Eudora comes parading into the room, sees me holding our baby, slaps her own forehead and incredulously asks "Am I dreaming?" Leave it to her to manage to be even more dramatic than the birth of a new life.

After the Birth

10:15pm. Here is where the REAL difference in birth location becomes obvious--and more important than ever. Mathilda is calm and observant while in my arms. We all sing Happy Birthday to her, just as Eudora had planned. She is still receiving oxygen and blood from my body since the cord connecting us is attached--- there is no rush to sever our connection. There is no rush to provide extra air to her--she is having no trouble breathing, her color is pink and healthy. There is no rush to take her from me to place her under an electric warmer since she is not suffering from blood loss (cutting the cord early denies a small infant precious ounces of blood which may lower their body temperature). She is laying skin-to-skin with me and is nuzzling my breast. Her eyes are wide open--she seems a bit perplexed at this strange new world--but she is not terrified or in pain--just curious. I hope these first few moments set the tone for her entire life.

10:20pm. I look into the video camera that is set up on the tri-pod in the corner of the room and speak these words (7 minutes after giving birth) I'm saying this so that it is on record--I would totally do this again. This was not painful or awful in anyway. There is a world of difference in giving birth at home compared to giving birth in a hospital. I would never do it any other way ever again. Although what I fail to mention was that i was so miserable the last week of my pregnancy that I probably won't ever have another baby. But instantly, the thought of never makes me sad and I sniff Mathilda's head...heaven.

10:23pm. Jill checks on the placenta to see if it is ready to come meet the world, as well. I am having a lot of cramps which feel a lot like contractions, which I am whining about. The cord has stopped pulsing and is kind of cold and limp feeling. I am surprised at how "spiral-y" it is. I've never gotten to play with the cord from my other births. It feels right to do I just had acrylic nails put on---they feel alien and weird, but oddly like my own all at once. The cord is mine--it is part of me--I created it out of the blood and cells in my body and the nutrients in my food--but it is entirely alien and has no further function at this point. The placenta seems to want to stay in there for a few more minutes. We decide to allow it to remain since I do not want to repeat the traumatic postpartum bleeding experience that I had with Eudora from the OB pulling my placenta out before it was fully detached.

10:30pm. Mathilda has latched on to my breast and is nursing like a pro! This definitely increase the uterine cramps. My complaints bring Jill back over to check on it. Both her and Jen press on my tummy to feel the fundus (top of the uterus) which is miraculously right at my navel now. They both agree that the placenta is no longer attached and that it is safe for it to come out. Jill gives the cord a small tug to see if it will come out. It doesn't. I am wary of pulling on it any more and ask if we can wait a few more minutes. Old fears die hard.

10:40pm. I am anxious for these cramps to end and feel like a real wuss for complaining about them...I did just give birth after all. Jill suggest that I may need to give a little "push" to help it along. I scootch down a bit and give a push...and feel it moving down...crikey! It feels bigger than Mathilda! I push a bit harder and this HUGE thing flops out of me! Holy Placenta! In addition to our daughter, evidently I was also carrying around the world's most mammoth placenta. This thing was taking up all of my tummy space and led us to believe that Mathilda was going to be a bit bigger than she is. Instantly, I feel like a new person. My uterus is entirely my own again. My body, although still showing the signs of pregnancy and recent birth, feels almost normal already.

10:42pm. After Jen puts the placenta in a bowl and has a good look at it to determine that it is all intact, Jill decides to take a look at my bits and parts to make sure that they are all intact. No one seems surprised to hear that there has been no tearing, no ripping, and no abrasions. I feel a little bit sore, but already I can tell my recovery will be much more pleasant without rips, tears or stitches.

11:00pm. David gets to hold his new daughter for the first time while Jill escorts me into the bathroom for a shower. I am happy that I hear no cries while I am gone. And I am also very happy with my investment in the all-natural, organic, Rosemary-Mint soap I purchased just for this occasion. Both of these things make up for the adult diaper I am wearing...but even that sure beats two giant Kotex precariously shoved into a pair of great big cotton granny panties.

11:10pm. Back in bed...a bed that has fresh sheets on it ala the midwives. Is there anything that they are not awesome at? David makes some sexual innuendos about my industrial-strength panties. The midwives jokingly ask if we are aware of the many benefits of spacing our pregnancies.

11:30pm. My midwives bust out the cheesecake they brought to celebrate my daughters birthday. Cheesecake. A freaking cheesecake. I challenge anyone to top that. Cheesecake.

Midnight. We are tucked into our clean, warm bed. Belly full of cheesecake. Arms full of new baby. Heart full of love. Our birth music mix plays softly in the background. One last hug and congratulations from the midwives before they return home to their families. We did it. Mathilda is here. Everything was just perfect. She snuggles into me and nurses all night long while I stay awake and marvel at the incredible journey that has brought us to this time, this place, this outcome.


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