Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Water Birth, Home Birth with a Midwife

A lot of life has happened since my last post...two major things being that we finally sold our home in Omaha and found a new home here in Georgia, moved in, had the moving truck arrive a week later got unpacked and another week after that, went to Washington and Oregon for vacation, then came back and had a couple weeks left till our due date of Sept.7, which leads to the second thing...we welcomed our third child into the world, this time in the comfort of our own home in my wonderfully spacious and deep soaking tub in our master bath.  It's kind of strange writing a blog post after such a long break, kind of like an awkward phone conversation with someone you haven't spoken to in so long and you aren't sure where to start...  so I will start with the birth story and then fill in on everything else that's been going on in my next posts.  Things feel less crazy and I miss blogging!  I'm really bad at journaling/scrapbooking, etc so this blog is like the closest thing I have to a journal/scrapbook!

My sister and her adorable daughter came down about a week before my due date to help out and be my doula.  We did not know anyone in Georgia aside from my husbands work associates so it was such an amazing blessing to have my sister come cross country to be with us during this time.  When my 2nd was born we were relatively new in Dallas at that time and didn't know many people there...and that was a huge stress not really knowing what help we would have with our daughter then 3 when I had to go to the hospital.  We ended up having to have our neighbors temporarily be there for her until my friend who lived way up north in Frisco could get down to our place in the middle of the night to take over being there with her.  I'm so grateful I had that friend, but this time I had no one!  We still hadn't even had a chance to meet our new neighbors! So having my sister here at the house was just awesome, not just for all the awesome help she provided...including organizing our playroom and my closet, but just her physically being here so I knew there was someone here for the kids regardless of how things went was a huge relief.

Here is the short version-for the full version read on below or just skip down to the pics-
On Labor Day, Sept 2, we welcomed our 3rd child, Cameron to the world at home by water birth attended by a midwife.  He was 7.5 pounds, 19 inches and beautiful!  My actual labor was 2.5 hours at most...I have a history of spontaneous fast and furious labor.

Around August 28 I was having contractions and cramping and thought this must be it I'm getting close!  So I let my midwife know she was on alert...which was another worry, my 2nd labor and delivery was so fast my water broke on my way to the car and I barely made it inside the hospital...I nearly had my son on the sidewalk since the doors were locked at the L&D can read that story here.  Since my midwife doesn't live all that close to me I was worried if she would arrive in time.  I was excited for a home birth and especially a water birth, but was not interested in an unassisted home birth.  I wanted my CNM and her team and their equipment here before baby!
So as soon as I noticed any signs that I was getting close to labor I let them know I was probably going to mess up their labor day weekend plans.  However, by Saturday things really slowed down  and so I went ahead and scheduled my 39 week checkup for Tuesday.  My Midwife Kay Johnson from Atlanta Birth Care said that scheduling the appointment was good luck or something like that...I was glad things had slowed down I was in no rush, I had been battling a bad cough that turned out to be Bronchitis and was hoping it would subside by the time I had the baby because otherwise I figured I would end up coughing the baby out!  Well, Sunday night I started feeling restless and having some cramping, similar to menstrual cramps but still didn't feel like anything was happening yet...not nearly as much as I felt a couple days prior.  Feeling restless and unable to sleep I got online, decided to google "signs of labor" even though I pretty much already knew...anyway, the one article I clicked on was Five Signs of Labor on and as I skimmed along not really paying attention to what I was reading, suddenly I had to do a double take...I re-read the quote followed by "says Kay Johnson, a certified nurse-midwife in Atlanta." they were quoting my midwife!  I was already confident in everyone at Atlanta Birth Care and in Kay but it was kind of an extra boost of confidence in my midwife seeing her being quoted in that article and kind of funny, rather than call and bother my midwife with any questions at night, I could just google my question and get her advice! lol!  Soon after I went to bed.

I later woke up finding myself deep breathing through some tightening in my abdomen, but it wasn't uncomfortable at all so I immediately fell back asleep.  Then I woke up again with the same thing.  Then again.  By the third time I actually woke up and felt hungry so I went to have a snack and noticed it was 4:30 am.  When I came back to my room, I felt restless again so I sat in the chair and found myself breathing through a couple more of those tightening sensations, but they started getting more uncomfortable.  Tyler started tossing and turning in bed as I was in the chair working through contractions that were starting to turn into back labor but I just wasn't to the point of admitting I was in labor yet...I feel bad waking anyone up if it's not the real deal.  So half asleep, Tyler rolls over and asks "could you go do that somewhere else? It's hard to sleep" I basically barked at him "NO!" to which he quickly sat up and realized what was going on and that I wasn't just sitting in the chair making loud breathing noises just for the fun of it.  Almost immediately after that the back labor kicked in full force and I found myself kneeling on the floor in front of the chair, resting my head and arms on the cushion and needing him to put intense pressure on my back to counter the pain I was having.  He had to press so hard it hurt but at the same time made the back labor during contractions feel bearable and I could not get through a contraction without him there applying counter pressure.  He quickly let our midwife know I was in labor and she left right away to head over.  In between contractions I was trying to tell him things to set up but the contractions were coming so fast he would barely rush off to do something and I'd immediately be calling him to get back to me, I NEEDED THAT COUNTER PRESSURE!!!!  We also sent my sister a text as she was sleeping upstairs to let her know it was time.  I started feeling nauseous so Tyler brought me a bowl and as I started puking in it, our midwife Kay Johnson appeared in the hallway.  I was so rude, everything was so intense between the hard and fast contractions, back labor and puking I don't think I even said anything to her.  I was really happy she was there though.  As soon as I was done with puking I knew I was really close so I moved to the shower hoping it would be more relaxing while I waited for the tub to fill up.  (Our house has 2 water heaters so I was able to have the hot shower water on my back while there was still plenty of hot water to fill the tub.  

Here is a picture of my sister helping a she took over the job of applying counter pressure while I breathed through contractions in the shower.   I was very grateful for the seat in our new shower and the space because all I could do was be in that same position as I was at the chair, kneeling over like this, concentrating on breathing.  I was kinda pissed though, I had watched some youtube videos where women demonstrated J breathing and whatever else it was called from hypnobirthing, where they claimed that when you have a contraction, you breath and expand your belly which releases the tightness and pain of the contraction...well...I practiced the technique and was doing it...and I did find it helped with the contraction in the front but did NOTHING for back labor!  But I was determined to keep it together and not make a sequel to my last birth which my husband describes as The Exorcist...I was not going to scream!  Whenever I felt like I might start loosing control I started repeating to myself "I can do all things, I can do all things"  which kind of became my mantra after recently hearing the Matthew West song Strong Enough...and the part which comes from scripture "I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength" kept coming to mind.  I don't even remember any other part of that song.  But having something encouraging to repeat to myself got me through the contractions as well as the urge to cough uncontrollably and I was able to stay in control and focused and not let fear have any place in the process.

 Pretty soon I felt that strong pressure and knew it was time to get in the tub otherwise I wasn't going to get to have the water birth I so wanted.  It was just like everyone else said it was when I read other people's water birth stories...getting into that hot tub of water felt like heaven...and instant pain relief!  My sister ran to the kitchen real quick to grab something and I started having a contraction and was about to panic because I wasn't able to handle the back labor during contractions without any counter pressure...but I found that in the water...I was ok...I could handle it...although I still appreciated the counter pressure when she came back.  Tyler at that time was making up the bed with Kay.  Things were happening fast, again and everyone was busy :)  And I was so grateful that this intense fast labor was made so much more calm and I could stay focused being at home not having to be in the car trying to get to the hospital in time like last time and then having to answer a bunch of questions when the baby is on it's way out and I was stuck on my back which caused the birth to be excruciating!  This time, I was able to stabilize my hips by staying on hands and knees and that with the hot water, made this birth like a bazillion times better and less painful!

As the pressure grew more intense and I could feel it was almost time to push, my mantra transformed from "I can do all things, I can do all things..." to focusing on the positive end result that I knew I was getting so close to...and I started saying/thinking to myself "I'm going to hold you" and distracting myself from the pain with excitement about getting to hold my baby boy soon.   I also found myself at the end humming really loud while drumming on the side of the tub with my was like slapping the side of the tub and hearing that echo released some of the tension and helped me stay focused.  As I was having my last few contractions before he was on his way out I started to notice the sun rise out the bathroom window so in between contractions, it was amazing to just look out the window next to me and enjoy that moment with the sun rising.  Everything felt so peaceful and beautiful.  Those moments were short mind you, I probably had my contractions less than a minute apart.

I knew it was time, baby was ready to make his appearance.  I told everyone I felt like baby was coming and I think I remember Kay saying not to push, just let my body and baby do it on it's own...and so I kept humming and drumming the side of the tub through those intense contractions and it was crazy, I didn't really have to push, I focused on relaxing and breathing him out rather than pushing as hard as I could like most of us are instructed to do at the hospital and that's basically what happened, I felt intense pressure but it wasn't painful like the last time I gave birth. The next thing I remember was my midwife, Kay, telling me "he's coming right towards you" and I looked down and saw his little face, eyes wide open coming towards me under water and I picked him right up and held him and there are no words to describe the feelings of how amazing the experience was.  He didn't cry but was calm and alert, looking around with the soft warm morning light coming through the window.  After a couple minutes, Kay started rubbing his back to stimulate him a little more because she wanted to hear him cry to make sure his lungs were clear.  Once that was done, he was back to being totally calm and alert.  I didn't want that moment to ever end.  We just sat there in the warm water, him and I, snuggling and looking at each other in awe.  

This is his first picture!  I just remember looking at my husband and seeing the emotion on his face at that was priceless.  I woke up at 4:30 am not quite sure I was in labor and 2.5 hours later, was holding my son by 7 am.  The midwife apprentice Nichole missed the birth by a few minutes because she lives about an hour away and that just how fast it went!  
I remember the midwife asking me if my water had broken yet during labor but I was not aware that it had...I thought..well I have been in the shower and the tub maybe it did and I didn't notice.  But Cameron was born in the broke as his head came out...that's probably why he looked so perfect when he came out he had a cushion!  
He came out in two contractions, head first, body during the second contraction...words cannot describe how good it felt...I mean, when you are feeling such intense pressure, giving birth felt like the ultimate relief!  I remember the next day or so just being on cloud 9, full of hormones and overjoyed just couldn't stop reliving the feelings and sensations and all of it.  I was sad when it started to fade and become a memory.  I really did want to just stay in that moment forever and ever.  Nothing beats the moment I first laid eyes on him looking up at me from under water....
The Lord answered all my prayers surrounding Cameron's arrival...from being able to find, purchase and move into a new home in time, having my sister there, the best scenario for the kids (they were asleep and woke up just after the birth), having enough time in labor for the midwives to get to the house in time, and there are more details that just worked out perfectly, I can't even remember it all right now but I do want to give Him credit for the way everything played out better than I could have imagined!

After I had some time to swoon over him and laughing when we realized I went into labor and had him on Labor Day, My husband went upstairs to wake up our 6 year old daughter who had requested to cut the umbilical cord (totally her own idea, I was surprised when she asked).  It was so fun seeing her face as she appeared in the bathroom doorway and saw her baby brother for the first time and ran up to the side of the tub for a closer look.  She was also in a state of awe and excitement.  She also still wanted to cut the cord, so about 45 minutes or so after the birth, she cut the cord and I was really proud of her. The rest of the day she kept randomly thanking us for waking her up and letting her do that.  It was really special for her.  A little after she cut the cord, baby was wrapped up in a towel and dad got to hold him while I got out of the tub, showered, sat in the chair with the baby, kids and hubby for a family photo and then got in bed. (as you can see I didn't bother to look in the mirror at all that morning and fix my hair! After laboring in the shower it was kinda of a mess!)  

Excited Auntie who was by my side the whole time after being up most of the night taking care of her own daughter.  She's the best!

 Our first family portrait with the new addition!  My 3 yo son and 2 yo niece both woke up shortly after my daughter cut the cord and were excited to see the new baby when they came downstairs.

 Tyler was the photographer so that is why he isn't in a lot of these pictures.  Here is my adorable niece that morning...
Then it was time for the exams.  Mine went well, no stitches needed which was awesome and another benefit I had read that water birth reduced the chances of tearing.  Not having any stitches was amazing...I was up and about in no time!  Baby's exam was good too, big sister wouldn't leave his side!  

This pic was taken during one of my favorite moments...B asked me if we were going to keep him (the new baby) and I said "Yes! We're going to keep him forever!" and he threw his fist up in the air and said "YES!!!"

 The batteries decided to die when Kay was trying to get his weight so...
We improvised!  He came in at roughly 7.5 lbs.
 Me and my boys...

After the midwife team left, we relaxed for a little while, ate some breakfast and then moved out to the screened in porch because the weather was perfect!

 I'm sure I'll have more to share about the experience and process but I will leave it at this for now.  We are all just so so so in love with this little guy, both kids adore and dote on him constantly and are so sweet with him and Tyler and I are also totally enamored with him.  I guess you could say all 4 of us are pretty infatuated!  I was hoping to have made a video of some various footage of him but the days go by fast and haven't had the time to figure it out so I will leave you all with this short clip I made a week ago on my phone with the Lumify App when he was almost 4 weeks.

I feel like there is so much more I could say or that I left out yet there aren't words for everything, I think no matter how much I say it wouldn't truly capture this incredible experience and if this post was any longer it would be a book not a blog!  


Unknown said...

I have never seen a baby so beautiful after it was born! great job!!!!
how did you deal with the labour and contractions the best?

ibshell said...

The video brought tears to my eyes. How easily children love their babies! Congratulations to you and your family. He's amazing!

Anonymous said...

Wow !! This is so beautiful and so special ~ I loved reading your entire post and felt like I was almost there while you were going thru the entire process. So happy for you darling. Your blessed to have such a lovely family, Sister and midwives. Congratulations honey.

Unknown said...

Hi Candace!

Your pictures are beautiful.

I am a Health Promotion Facilitator with Reproductive Health, Healthy Children and Families (HCF), Alberta Health Services (located in Alberta, Canada).

Our team is responsible for the development of the, which is a practical guide to pregnancy and being a parent. Part of this work includes print copies of this guide as well as other health promotion resources for families.

We recently came across the image of you in your shower while you were in labor. We would like to know if we could be given permission to reproduce this image in our resources. A credit line acknowledging your copyright ownership and grant of permission will appear with the selected material. If you prefer that credit appear in a specific manner/format, please let us know. My email address in

Thank you for your consideration.


Health Promotion Facilitator
Reproductive Health
Healthy Children & Families
Healthy Living
Population, Public and Indigenous Health
10101 Southport Road SW cubicle #1604
Calgary, Alberta T2W 3N2
tel: 403-943-6764 fax: 403-943-2211

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