My Fireside Baby
Thousand Oaks CA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 1, January-February 2003, p. 12
My first child, Alex, was born at 37 weeks gestation through a surgical delivery because he was breech. I wanted my next birth to go differently, and I was in no hurry, even in late pregnancy, to deliver my second baby. But by the time I reached my 41st week of pregnancy, my entire family was eager for the baby to arrive. For weeks, my now three-year-old son had been reminding me that he and Daddy were ready. "When will you be ready, Mommy?" he would ask.
My water broke at 7 am on a Thursday, six days past my due date. By 7:30, my contractions had started. I tried to relax in bed for a while since my son was still asleep. But by 8, I started making phone calls to get my support system in place since the contractions seemed to be coming about every five minutes. I told one of my midwives that there was some meconium in my water. She asked for further description, but since there was only a hint of green, she did not seem to be alarmed. My friend, Tanya, came right over with her 19-month-old son, Giancarlo. He and Alex play very well together so it was incredibly helpful that he joined his mommy. Tanya came bearing bagels, spinach soup, and miso soup to sustain us through the labor.
My husband returned home from work to be by my side. We had taken classes to prepare for this day. He was wonderful with a soft touch when needed, emotional support, and the occasional massage.
When Leslie, the midwife, checked my cervix at 11 am, I was disappointed to hear that I was only about two centimeters dilated. We thought that perhaps the baby would be born in the evening.
Later that afternoon my friend, Cheri, arrived. I had been present at the birth of her daughter, Lily, and she was returning the favor. Cheri had had a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) at a birthing center. Tanya and Cheri have different strengths, which made it especially helpful to have them both present.
At about 3:30 pm. Cheryl, the midwife's assistant, arrived to check my progress. I was at about four centimeters by then. She thought that the baby might come in the early hours of the next morning. My friends and I continued to chat, visit, and time contractions throughout the day, into the evening, and through the night.
As dusk fell, my husband came up with a great idea. He lit a fire in the fireplace. I continued to use the techniques I learned in the birthing class while relaxing in front of the fire. At no point did I ever feel the need for pain medication. In this respect, the birthing class was incredibly successful.
Around 9 pm, Felicia, the other midwife, stopped by to check my progress. Leslie and Cheryl were attending another birth. I was only at five centimeters! Felicia stayed for a while. I was worried about how to know when to call the midwives back in order to have an attendant at the baby's birth. Felicia said that I would know. She said I would notice a definite change in the intensity of the contractions.
Around 3 am, I was so ready to have my baby. It seemed to me that there was a change in the contractions, although perhaps it was wishful thinking. Leslie said she thought that I still sounded too "with it" to be ready. She came around 5 am and I was only at seven centimeters!
At about 6 am, my husband had his parents pick up our son, which I wasn't completely happy about. Alex had come to all of my prenatal visits, he had watched a video on home birth many times, and he seemed excited about the whole thing. In hindsight, I know my husband made the right choice. Without Alex to take care of, he was able to be there for me in every way.
Leslie wanted me to squat through each contraction. She had me walking and using the breast pump to stimulate my nipples in order to bring about stronger contractions. I was now able to take little naps, as my contractions became seven, even 10 minutes apart at times. It took until 9 am for my cervix to fully dilate.
I began bearing down to push my baby out. I had wanted to "breathe my baby down"-a technique that I had learned in my birthing class, but bearing down seemed to do the trick. After an hour and 25 minutes of pushing, my baby girl, Talia Rose, arrived at 10:25 am on Friday morning. I was amazed that after her head was born, the rest of her body slithered out quickly and easily. Talia came out with her left hand propped against her head as if she were talking on the phone. This caused me to tear slightly, but it really was not a big deal.
Talia immediately started nursing like a champ. Leslie even wrote on the birth report, "nursed vigorously." With my son, I did not have the benefits of La Leche League until he was four weeks old. Initially, I had a great deal of pain and soreness when nursing him. It is wonderful to know that it doesn't have to be a toe-curling experience. I did not have one bit of pain with Talia.
The midwives were amazing! They even washed the sheets as well as anything else that had become soiled during the birth. They stayed with me into the afternoon making certain that Talia and I were fine, and they examined her in a gentle and loving manner. After the midwives left, my husband, my new baby, and I took a lovely nap together. Later that afternoon, my little boy joined us and we really felt like a family! I'm so grateful for the patience of my friends, my husband, and my midwives during the VBAC home birth. If we choose to have another baby down the road I look forward to another fireside baby!