Having a Home Water Birth – Part 2: Laboring for Brooke

Brooke was born in Flagstaff, Arizona, to proud parents Mark and Clara,

under the care of Mary Ann Baul and Emily Dale of Womancare Midwifery.

March 23, 2013
8:54 pm
6 lbs. 8 oz.
21.5 in. long

Day 1_3 revAnd finally, here’s the story …

At 41 weeks and two days pregnant, I was getting rather impatient! (Not to mention, uncomfortable!) So, we decided to go downtown to walk around and also to look at mountain bikes for future purchase. It was a great distraction and we hoped the walking would help get labor started.

Later, I realized that I was probably already having contractions when we left the house around 3 p.m.! Several weeks before, one of the midwives had cautioned me that many second time moms don’t realize they are in labor because it feels quite different from the first time. I was absolutely sure that wouldn’t apply to me, as I distinctly remembered how my contractions felt the first time around.

Well, she was right! I had shooting pains down my right leg and spent much of our time out trying to get somewhat comfortable – walking, not walking, sitting, standing, massaging – hoping the baby would come!

After a few hours out, I was getting more and more uncomfortable. We decided not to eat out and arrived home around 6 p.m. Mark made spaghetti for dinner, which I gratefully ate while standing at the counter (sitting was too painful!) At about 6:30 p.m., I used the restroom and noticed a bit of blood after wiping. They call it the “bloody show” – it is actually a blood-tinged mucous plug releasing from the cervix when the body is ready for labor. I finally realized those pains for the last few hours were actually contractions!

I called Emily, one of the midwives, at 6:45 p.m. I described my pains and told her I had a bit of blood release. She told me things could be moving along and she would be over soon.

Comfortably awaiting the next contraction

Comfortably awaiting the next contraction

15 minutes later I welcomed Emily in and promptly went upstairs to try to get comfortable. Mark was giving Ethan a bath and putting him to bed. As soon as he was done, he ran upstairs to begin filling the birthing pool for me.

Emily checked my cervix and said I was at a “stretchy” 6 cm already. Being determined to have a water birth, I was not happy to hear that we may not have time to get the pool filled!

By now, my contractions were quite strong. However, because I was having a home birth, I was able to labor in any position, wherever I was most comfortable, with two midwives available to comfort and guide me … and no worry of having to drive to a hospital!

Getting a massage from Mary Ann

Getting a massage from Mary Ann

So, with dim lights and relaxing music, I continued to breathe through the pain while Mark and the midwives worked to fill the pool with warm water from a hose attached to the shower faucet, as well as water boiled on the stove.

My friend, Shauna, arrived to photograph, and managed to catch a few smiles in between the groans!

Finally, at about 8:30 p.m., the pool was filled and warm enough for me to get in. With Mark’s help, I climbed over the side in between contractions, welcoming the soothing warmth and buoyancy the water provided.

I asked the midwives when I should start pushing. Their reply, “Whenever you feel you need to.”

M. comforting me

M. comforting me

I kept waiting for the contractions to be more intense, assuming it would be as painful as labor was with Ethan. It just didn’t seem possible that I was almost ready to push!

After a short 15 minutes in the water, I was feeling the urge. I took a deep breath, bared down, and did my best to move that little baby towards the outside world.

Mark encouraged me to breathe deeply and held my hands for comfort. Another push, and the midwives assured me that I was progressing, as they could see a little head peeking out!

Emily caught Brooke and helped her swim up to my chest

Emily caught Brooke and helped her swim up to my chest

After a couple more pushes, I felt like my skin was going to rip apart. Emily assured me that my perineum was stretching beautifully and Brooke would be arriving soon. I just had to be patient and allow nature to take its course.

With the next push, her head was out. One moment to relax, and then another contraction hit.

I was thankful to have no intervention by the midwives. They were simply watching and waiting, allowing me to push and rest as I needed to. This was quite a different experience from giving birth in a hospital in Mexico, flat on my back (which is ridiculously painful for a woman in labor!) with my feet in stirrups.

Finally, one final push and at 8:54 p.m., Brooke’s body slid out!

Blue baby girl

Blue baby girl

Yes, Brooke came out a wee bit blue, but honestly, I didn’t even notice! I could only see our beautiful baby girl, curled up in my arms. (The midwives reassured us that blue babies are common at high altitudes.)

With help, I climbed out of the birthing pool and onto the bed. Brooke rested on my chest for the next hour while blood pulsed through her still attached umbilical cord. Finally, the midwife handed Mark the scissors and he cut the cord!

It was a beautiful experience. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed us to have our baby in the U.S. in a natural, comfortable home setting. We are enjoying each day with our two amazing children!

Mary Ann getting ready to weigh Brooke

Mary Ann getting ready to weigh Brooke

Mary Ann weighed, measured and tested for her Apgar score (8).

Weighing and Measuring 6 rev Weighing and Measuring 27 rev Weighing and Measuring 24 rev Weighing and Measuring 14 rev

Relaxing in bed before cutting the cord

Relaxing in bed before cutting the cord

Ethan meeting Brooke the next morning ... He liked her!

Ethan meeting Brooke the next morning … He liked her!

A big thanks to Womancare Midwifery for their fantastic support and an incredible delivery!

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Waiting (Impatiently) For My ‘Overdue’ Baby

Why am I being so impatient?

Why am I feeling so frustrated?

41 weeksEthan knows there's a baby in my belly

41 weeks
Ethan knows there’s a baby in my belly

Why am I dragging my feet around the house, instead of enjoying my last few days of being able to give all of my attention to my one adorable child before the baby arrives?

Who am I trusting?

Doctors and scientists who merely observe humans and make recommendations, or the God that creates humans – namely me! – and knows exactly what my body will do and when?

The ‘magical’ 40 weeks date has come and gone. Now I’m at 41 weeks and 2 days, with no sign of baby coming. (Of course, that can change in an instant!)

I woke up this morning needing some encouragement, so I looked for other blogs about ‘late’ baby birth stories. Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry wrote a great post about the birth of her second ‘overdue’ baby, as compared to her first ‘early’ and induced baby (insisted on by the doctor due to gestational diabetes). She also mentioned three other babies that came ‘late’, and how all of the labors were faster, uncomplicated, and the babies were healthy and alert when allowed to arrive naturally!

In looking back at my own research and previous blog posts, I was reminded of the fact that we still use a formula for calculating a woman’s due date made popular by a German obstetrician, Franz Naegele, in 1838, not even based on empirical data! He averaged gestational length to be 40 weeks from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period, assuming that the mother ovulates on day 14 of a 28 day menstrual cycle. (Because we all know that every woman has a regular four week cycle and ovulates every month exactly on day 14 … not!)

I do realize that there are times when intervention is necessary and can save a mother and/or baby’s life. Thank goodness for education and doctors when those times come! But do we really need all of the interventions and inductions which cause our bodies to react in ways that are unnatural, thereby making very long and painful labors occur, usually followed by c-sections?

Anyway, back to the facts …

In 1990, Dr. Robert Mittendorf and his cohorts studied 17,000 births and thereby calculated the average length of uncomplicated human pregnancy to be an average of 41 weeks and 1 day from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period for first time mothers. Even the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) does not recommend interfering with a normal pregnancy before 42 completed weeks.

And here I am at 41 weeks and 2 days. I’m actually fairly average, at this point!

Not to mention the fact that I was quite sick for about 10 days with a sinus infection and coughing up phlegm. Not exactly a great way to head into labor, so I prayed that God would allow me to heal and gain my strength back before having the baby. He certainly answered that prayer … and then I became impatient on the first day I felt better! (FYI – My midwife also mentioned that women who are sick often do not go into labor!)

So now I just need to rest.

Rest in the sovereignty of God that He knows when Brooke will arrive. Rest on the couch when I’m feeling tired. Rest in the comfort of the arms of my sweet husband, who is fully supporting our natural home water birth. Rest in the knowledge that we have excellent midwives that are here to provide the best care available when the time comes.

Just Rest.

(And of course, take walks and use other natural remedies to help this baby along!)

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Having a Home Water Birth: My Modern Day Miracle – Part 1

Who says modern day miracles don’t exist? I beg to differ!

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines miracle as:

  1. an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
  2. an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

Here’s my miracle …

Less than five weeks before our second baby is due, our plans completely changed, due to what we believe is divine intervention in our lives!

Original plan: Have baby #2 in March in Mexico; sell boat; move to Flagstaff, Arizona, in July

Current plan: Move to Flagstaff in January (done!); have baby #2 in Flagstaff with a midwife at home; sell boat

How did we get here?

Four months ago, we made the decision to leave Mexico and move back to the U.S., intending to have to wait until the summer. But, thanks to God’s blessings financially, we were able to move seven months early! So, after enjoying Christmas vacation with family in Spokane, WA, we came to Flagstaff, AZ, to locate a rental house for our move. Everything went according to plan and we moved in on January 16th.

Now, I am sitting at the kitchen table, watching my son play with his toys and feeling the constant movements of our second baby in my tummy. (Oh, I almost forgot – being able to get pregnant is also a miracle … but that’s another story.)

And I’m anticipating a relaxed, natural home birth for baby Brooke, complete with three midwives and a warm, comfy pool of water to labor and deliver in. This is truly a miracle!

Wait, let me back up again …

Three years ago, when finding out I was pregnant, I dreamed of having a home birth with a midwife. Because we lived in Mexico, I had a very difficult time locating a certified midwife in our area. I thought of several options – going up to Arizona for the birth, finding a traveling midwife, or settling for a Mexican doctor. By the time I located a traveling midwife, they were all booked up for my due date (they come stay with you for two weeks).

So, after visiting two doctors, we finally settled on the third. Still, we felt we had to constantly fight for what we wanted throughout the pregnancy and the delivery – namely, a natural birth (most Mexican births are by c-section); both my husband and our translator in the birthing room; and no medications (unless absolutely necessary).

When finding out that we were pregnant with baby #2, we went back to Dr. Chavez for appointments and moved forward with plans to give birth in the same hospital. We didn’t think we would be living in the U.S. already and also, our insurance has a one year waiting period and will start covering maternity and birth on March 21st, one week after my due date. (I guess we didn’t plan this pregnancy very well!) So, we had planned to take advantage of the very inexpensive medical care in Mexico (Ethan’s birth was approximately $1,300).

Even six weeks ago, we were planning to leave Flagstaff on February 23rd (yesterday) to go back to Mexico for the birth, then return about six or seven weeks later.

So what happened?

After being in Flagstaff for three weeks, I had an appointment with a local midwife. I didn’t think it was wise this late in my pregnancy to wait seven or eights between doctor visits, and I wanted to have a contact here in case anything happened. At least I would’t be checking into the hospital without any kind of previous assistance!

I had a wonderful visit and enjoyed meeting two of the midwives. After a couple hours of being able to discuss my pregnancy and ask many, many questions, I came home hoping that somehow it would work out for us to stay. The midwives assured me that they would be happy to take me this late in my pregnancy as they had room for another birth, and that I am an ideal candidate (having had a natural birth previously without any complications and a healthy pregnancy so far).

I brought home literature from their office and shared my findings with M. Neither of us really wanted to return to Mexico for the birth, so having such a positive experience with the midwives gave us the extra measure of comfort we needed to step out in faith and pray about staying.

Yes, there is the concern that we could end up in the hospital and have a huge medical bill. There are always risks. Just getting pregnant is a risk. But after a few days of prayer and discussion, we decided to stay!

Moving forward …

We have already connected with several neighbors and families at our church and feel that we have the support network that we need. Actually, one of the couples in our small group even gave birth at home in January with the same midwives and had a wonderful experience!

We also don’t want to take Ethan away from his new home and go through the frustrations that travel bring to a little tikes sense of comfort and routine. He is finally adjusting, which is a huge accomplishment for a 1 1/2 year old!

So, we are moving forward. I’ve ordered the birthing pool and am gathering up everything that we need for the big day.

Thank you God for your miracles!

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Prepartum Depression … really?

Why was I feeling so down the last few days? I have every reason to be rejoicing!

  • We are now living in Flagstaff, Arizona, in a wonderful large house with a great backyard in a fantastic neighborhood
  • My husband just returned from Mexico with the rest of our belongings (after a tiring and sweat-packed four days of driving and packing, alone)
  • I’ve made some great friends that are also moms with young kids
  • We’ve been attending an excellent church and meeting friends there
  • My son is (mostly) healthy and making friends (I think his body is adjusting to the germs and bugs here)
  • We have all the conveniences of living in the U.S. again – parks, playgrounds, restaurants, stores – anything you want at your fingertips
  • And most of all, a loving and dedicated husband that is an awesome Dad!
    Out on the town

    Out on the town

    photo (1)

    Ethan bundled up

Pregnancy blues?

37 weeks

37 weeks

My second pregnancy is going well and I’m 37 weeks along.

To top it off, my dream of having a home birth with a midwife has come true! And not just a home birth, but a water birth! (This has been my desire from the first pregnancy, but wasn’t an option since we were in Mexico.)

So, why was I feeling blue?

I looked around the house and saw things that needed to be done – like putting away everything that just came home from Mexico. And finishing organizing baby Brooke’s room. Washing more laundry and cleaning the kitchen. I needed to buy groceries, since I had eaten mostly leftovers and ‘snacky’ meals while hubby was away. To top it off, Ethan has a stomach bug, again, and was vomiting yesterday morning.

Am I going to be able to handle two kids?

A 19-month-old that still doesn’t sleep through the night (thankfully, Dad has taken over the night shift) and a new baby that will need my constant attention. Washing dirty cloth diapers every day and waking throughout the night for feedings (a.k.a. boobie calls).

Just what the doctor ordered … GNO!

Luckily, I had been invited by one of the midwives to a class last night on using essential oils. My hubby encouraged me to go and he stayed home with Ethan (he has bath and bedtime duty anyway, so no problems there!). I was already feeling a bit better after 2 1/2 days of being down, but a night out with the girls really boosted my mood. Or maybe it was all of the oils we lathered on. (No, wait … it was that amazing Chocolate Bliss Raspberry Parfait that I ate two of!)

I found that just sharing my feelings of inadequacy and being overwhelmed made me feel less alone. Several of the women there have two young kids and said that they mostly stay home, as it is such a hassle to get out the door.

The woman giving the class related one story that really made me laugh (inside, of course!). She remembers laying on the couch during her second pregnancy while her almost 2-year-old was dumping milk out on the kitchen floor. She couldn’t get motivated to even care, let alone get off the couch and clean it up!

I guess I just needed to hear that I’m not alone. I’m normal. I’m OK. I can lay on the couch and nap or just veg out – for a little while everyday if necessary. Nothing’s ‘wrong’ with me. I’m just really pregnant and hormonal!

What is Prepartum Depression?

I thought I was being creative with the term “prepartum depression”, but it’s an actual condition. Who knew?!

Here’s what I found from prepartumdepression.net:

Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful times of any woman’s life. But for numerous women, pregnancy is a time of stress, fear, anxiety, confusion, and even depression. 11% of women suffer from this type of depression according to the recent research.

Prepartum depression is a depression that occurs during pregnancy. It is more like a mood disorder that involves alterations in brain chemistry. As a matter of fact, during pregnancy many hormones change which can influence the chemicals present in the brain of women that are associated to anxiety and depression.

And from allparenting.com:

Recognize the warning signs

It can be difficult to diagnose depression during pregnancy because many of the symptoms are the same as those that occur in a normal pregnancy [yeah, that's helpful, right?!]. But prepartum depression is a serious medical condition that can impact the normal growth and development of your baby if left untreated, so it is important to get help if you feel you may be affected.

[Here's the clincher:] If you have persistent symptoms of depression from the list below, lasting for more than two weeks, visit your physician for a medical evaluation.

  • Feelings of guilt, anxiety or worthlessness
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Impaired concentration
  • Changes to eating habits
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

I think I’ve had bouts here and there, but thankfully, it’s not bad enough or consistent enough to see a doctor. A day or two at the most, and then with some rest, exercise and healthy eating, I always snap out of it. And those evening massages from my hubby are helpful, too!

Nesting

The funny thing is, now I am eager to get some of these last ‘nesting’ things done. I have great energy today and my hubby and I have had good conversation this morning.

I’ve found that I can only handle a couple of hours out of the house a day, and Ethan has his 18-month well baby doctor visit this afternoon. So, I will try to get a few things done around the house before we have to go. Perhaps even 20 minutes of pregnant yoga during nap time. But who knows, maybe I’ll end up just taking a nap while Ethan catches his zzz’s.

And I’m okay with that. Baby Brooke is coming in 3 weeks and I’m giving myself permission to just relax when needed! She won’t care if everything is in its proper place, if her room is decorated or plain, or if all of Ethan’s toys are perfectly organized.

It’s more important for me to be rested, happy, and able to provide a loving and caring home when she arrives!

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True Love

He loves me,

He loves me not;

He loves me,

He loves me not …

Well, maybe it worked as a young schoolgirl, but I don’t think this is a very accurate way to determine someone’s love!

So, how do you know when someone really does love you?

(And if you love them?)

I’ve been reading through Philip Yancey’s book, Disappointment With God, over the last couple months. When I came across the following quote, it stirred up a lot of emotions and got me thinking about my current marriage – and how it is vastly different from my past marriage. Here’s the quote from page 122:

“Love is most persuasive when it involves sacrifice.”

Sacrifice.

To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.

Free Dictionary

It’s a word that has a lot of negativity connected to it. And yet, is the “giving up” always difficult, or is the love that prompts us so much stronger than the sacrifice that it doesn’t feel like anything has been lost?

Looking Back

Originally, our top 5 reasons for moving to Mexico were:

5. To give our kids an overseas experience (and have our own, too!)

4. To get out of the “Rat Race” (which leads to #3)

3. To be able to live off less money than we earn (which leads to #2)

2. To buy a sailboat and learn how to sail (which leads to #1)

1. To travel and recreate our lives!

We have certainly traveled a lot with our 39′ sailboat and 37′ motorhome. Summer trips, sailing adventures, and lots of flights to see family during the holidays have filled our vacation time. We have also enjoyed the slower paced life here (#4 above).

Our Family

But, we had to re-evaluate our priorities after having kids. Realistically, the impact that #5 will have on our ability to see family, especially the grandparents, over the next 18 years of our precious children’s lives, has prompted us to make some BIG changes.

This past June, we decided to move from Mexico up to Flagstaff, AZ. We want to provide our kids with a stable and familiar place to call home. And we want to be able to afford the time and money needed to visit with family. But to do that, we had to consider our financial situation. So, here’s the big question:

How affordable is it to own and maintain a sailboat, RV, and a home?

Well, if you’re a millionaire, it’s probably just fine! But for us normal folk … it’s just not realistic. While discussing this reality a few months ago, I asked my husband which one he would prefer to not have.

And without a thought, he said,

“We’re selling the sailboat.”

He’s sacrificing the dream that led us to Mexico, but he’s replacing it with the greater dream of having a family – OUR FAMILY. (Even now, I’m moved to tears by his love for me and our kids.) I told him I appreciated his sacrifice, but he simply turned it around and acknowledged how much I sacrificed to move here by giving up my booming business and the wonderful life I had in Colorado.

His love is so real to me. Every day I see him working hard to provide for us, spending time loving on our son, giving me hugs and kisses all the time, and telling me how beautiful I am. Washing the cars, taking out the trash, folding the laundry, and the list goes on.

Is it a sacrifice, or is it simply allowing previous dreams to be exchanged for what is “considered to be of greater value”?

“Love is most persuasive when it involves sacrifice.”

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