Birth Stories

The Birth Story of Abigail Cecilia Shriver, June 22, 2007
by Jody, Adam and Abby Shriver
Well, I would start from the very beginning, but we all know how pregnancy starts, so I will start mid-way through the pregnancy.

I was very fortunate to have a very healthy pregnancy, and very loving and supportive family and very good quality healthcare.

I live about 45 minutes to an hour away from any hospital or OB/GYN office so I had to make a decision based on where I live, where I work, where my husband works, where he may be at the time of labor as well as places that I feel are where I would like to deliver my child. After weighing in all those measures, we decided to see Dr. Cooper, Galupo and Myers at Marietta Gynecologic Associates in Marietta, OH. This also means that I would go to Marietta Memorial Hospital if I got there in time. Throughout pregnancy, I really, really, really, really wanted to be that easy birth experience. I know the odds were against me, but hoped I would have my baby in route to the hospital or only 10 minutes after arriving at the hospital. Not the case.

As I mentioned, a very easy pregnancy, I participated in aerobics class 3 days a week until about 35 weeks. My due date was June 9, I knew this, but tried to tell everyone mid-June. Nobody liked that answer, but I am late for everything and reminded friends and family of that and to expect me to be late. One week late, 10 days late and 12 days late. No signs of contractions, no decrease in movement, no “baby dropping”, nothing. I even tried everything, bumpy roads, sex, spicy foods, stripping my membranes. I tried everything but castor oil. Not really into castor oil. It was one of those threats your parents made when you got in trouble or if you were sick and felt that castor oil would help the toxins leave your body faster and make you better. Needless to say, I was not going to voluntarily take castor oil. So after 2 weeks of my physician asking about induction and repeatedly turning down their gracious offer, I finally gave in, or really, I decided to be induced.

My physicians knew this was not part of my normal birth plan. So, I went into the hospital on a Wednesday evening to have my cervix softened. So nothing happened. I was having contractions, but they were pretty light and irregular. They broke my water Thursday morning and finally some action. The contractions seemed to be pretty regular to me, but not what is expected. They were really pretty spaced out. I labored in the pool, laying down, on a ball. I even walked around some. By late Thursday afternoon, I was started on pitocin. I really never progressed. After 30 hours in the hospital, I was still only opened to 6cm and very irregular contractions. After consulting with my physician and the anesthesiologist, we decided to get an epidural. They both knew I did not want a C-section, so the anesthesiologist suggested an epidural over a spinal to buy more time and avoid surgery. Immediately after the epidural, I made it to 10cm. It was Friday morning about 3:30am. I started pushing and pushed for 3 hours and delivered a big, beautiful, healthy baby girl at 6:38am. I held Abby right away and was able hold her through most of the assessment and until after the placenta was “born” (for lack of a better word), and after the cord was cut. They were curious about her weight so they weighed (10lbs 1.6oz) her and measured her length and returned her to me. She nursed right away and has been a champ ever since. She is now 15 months old and still nursing.

Jody Shriver

I have to rave about the care that I received in the hospital. My physician actually spent the night in the hospital. She gave me perineal massage for 2 hours while I was pushing. The nursing staff was all really open and considerate of what I wanted. I must thank my mother and husband for putting up with me and being so patient and supportive.

A HypnoBirthing Birth Story, May 2006
Submitted by Anonymous
It was a Tuesday or Wednesday in early May when I got the feeling that the baby was ready to come. I wasn’t ready and the house wasn’t ready.. My plan was for our baby to arrive in June. That way we would have more time to finish our home addition and get things organized. The baby’s room didn’t even have a finished floor or trim yet.

Heidi, our HypnoBirthing instructor, said we should talk to the baby and tell her things. So, I let her know I had a lot to get organized at work, we needed a plumber to fix the leak under the kitchen sink and the house was filthy, if she could just wait until the weekend it would be better.

So, she did. I left work early on Friday and picked up a set of mini blinds and a flat of impatiens. When my husband got home the house was clean, the plumber had come and gone, and the plants were planted. We went out to dinner to celebrate.

That night I stayed up late unpacking all of the shower presents and moving them into the baby’s room. I even hung up the blinds. Around eleven we finally went to bed, but not for long. An hour or two later I felt a funny trickle, then another trickle. I was so excited – this is what we had been waiting for and it was finally time.

I woke up my husband and we scurried around the house making a huge pile in the living room of things to take to the hospital (it was two weeks before my due date and we had not gotten this far yet). We had pillows, Gatorade, granola bars, a boom box and tapes, my address book, cell phone, our birth plan, HypnoBirthing handouts, slippers, change of clothes, baby stuff, etc. My husband went back to bed and I stayed up cleaning and placing things in and out of this pile. Eventually I went back to bed too.

Around five I woke my husband up and told him that he’d better take the dogs for a long walk. He looked out the window and saw that it was very dark and said he’d go in an hour. By now I was starting to feel the beginnings of surges and told him he had better go NOW. At about six we called our doula, I took a shower and we headed in to the hospital. I was disappointed to learn when I got there that I was only slightly dilated, but was fully effaced. We had to decide whether to go or to stay. It was a tough decision, but we opted to stay.

Once we got into the birthing room things started moving faster (for me at least). I remember feeling panic every time the doula left the room – something about her presence gave me confidence. I remember wondering why it hurt so much. At one point our doula had me do a few lunges on a chair between contractions – after that the baby was really ready to come. I had had tailbone pain for much of the pregnancy so sitting or lying on my back was uncomfortable, so I spent most of the labor on my hands and knees – rocking. As the pain got more uncomfortable my husband would just tell me to relax my shoulders which reminded me to relax everything. Details of this stage are very vague in my mind and time just whizzed by.

When I was ready to push I was on my side, my husband was in a headlock and the doctor was holding up one leg. Pushing felt awesome and primal. But I was definitely frustrated with the baby not coming out. At one point I did reach down and feel her soft, soft head. When she was finally out I held her right away and nursed. We had already known her sex, so our big surprise was a full head of red hair.

From the time my water broke to when she was born was 12 hours. We left the hospital a little bit more than 24 hours later with a healthy little girl!

The Healing Power of Running
by Brandi Holloway
On September 28th, 1999, I became a mother for the first time. My partner Scott and I welcomed our daughter Jorah into the world with tears of joy and gratitude. After a full week of baby bliss it finally dawned on me that I was recovering from major abdominal surgery; my baby was born by cesarean. My partner, midwife and doula all assured me that there would be another opportunity for a different birth in the future and I hung onto that hope. Over time, the tenderness of new motherhood faded as did the scar on my once pregnant belly.

Almost four years later, on a muggy summer evening, our daughter Sorell was born. In the years between my babies’ births I had become a certified childbirth educator and doula. I assisted countless women in labor and co-founded a non-profit organization, The Birth Circle, whose mission is to support and empower women through their pregnancies and beyond. I read everything I could get my hands on related to pregnancy and labor- and I was ready to have another baby. When it became apparent that Sorell would also be born by cesarean, I took a deep breath and swallowed my pain and disappointment. What did I have to be disappointed about anyway? My pregnancies were relatively easy, and I had no problems breastfeeding my healthy babies. Why couldn’t I just be happy with the gifts I had received?

Years passed and my babies grew into beautiful little girls. My passion for working with childbearing families continued. I channeled my energy into ensuring the growth of The Birth Circle and I decided to go to nursing school. I tried to put the past behind me and to focus on the future. Every now and then I would run my hands over the horizontal length of that familiar purple scar and feel betrayed by my body. My mind understood that there was nothing I could have done differently to change the circumstances of my babies’ births. My body, though, held the memory of the cesareans and I wondered if my daughters’ bodies did too. I could not escape the feeling of failure.

And then… I discovered running. It was casual at first, with a mile here and there. The cool air and sunshine nourished my desire to heal. As my feet pounded against the pavement I envisioned all the angry thoughts and feelings being absorbed by the earth around me. Soon one mile turned into three and then I was running my first 5K. Without even realizing it, running had become an essential part of my life. It allowed me to heal from a place deep inside that no amount of cognitive therapy could reach.

Each run slowly erased my feelings of failure, and the confidence I had in myself and my body grew. It was this newfound confidence and the support of my “running doula,” Kerry, which brought me to my first half-marathon in Columbus, Ohio in 2007. Like the births of my children, the details of that perfect, clear October afternoon will remain in my heart forever. Each and every mile we ran that day brought strength, hope and clarity. As I crossed the finish line in just over 2 hours I saw my daughters cheering in the crowd. My teary eyes could barely make out the sign they held up, “We love you mom. You can do it!”

The healing power of running has changed my life, and it has changed my daughters as well. A few days after I finished the big race I came home to discover the girls dressed in their running outfits. “Look, Mama, we’re playing marathon!” they shouted. I recognized the example I had set for my daughters every time I laced up my running shoes. My fears about having failed them by the method of their birth dissolved. They were going to be just fine.

While I strongly believe that a woman’s birth experience shapes her perception of herself as a mother, it no longer defines me. When I look at my cesarean scar, I still see a scar, but nothing more. My daughters have heard the stories of their births and know that their mama did her best to bring them into the world as healthy as they could be. They are strong and confident in their own bodies, their own abilities. And if they should choose to become mothers themselves someday, I will be right there on the sidelines cheering, “I love you. You can do it!” and I will know without a doubt that they will.

The Birth Story of Savannah Emalie, December 16th, 2005, and Jarron Alexander, September 24th, 2007
by Laura Johnson

I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy except for annoying allergies which clogged up my ears, and constant headaches. I was going to my OB for twice weekly appointments.  I went in for my Tues appointment and everything looked great. I had been dilated to about 3-4 centimeters for about 3 weeks and had a few contractions, but no intensive labor. When my Thursday appointment came about, my blood pressure shot up so much as to make my doctor nervous, and after an U/S and consulting with the other OBs, it was decided to induce me the next day. I was exactly 39 weeks along.

I went home, packed my bags, and checked into O’Bleness. After 3 very painful tries, a catheter was placed (this hurt more than anything else the entire time) and a magnesium drip was inserted.  A baby monitor was placed on my tummy and I attempted to get some sleep. About 5 the next morning I was awakened to break my water and start the Pitocin.  Not too long after that I was given my epidural (making sure I got the anesthesiologist before they were too busy to get to me).

At 2:30, I was dilated to 10 centimeters and the hospital staff was trying like crazy to get a doctor to deliver Savannah.  She was practically already here when he finally made it in.  After an episiotomy and everything, I had a level 4 laceration. I only pushed for 1 hr and 15 min.

Laura Johnson

I was so tired, dizzy, eyesight out of focus, and everything after her birth that it took me a day or more before I could really see her features.  My labor and delivery with her wasn’t nearly as hard on me as the recovery. I hurt so bad for many weeks.  It made me very nervous to even attempt to have a vaginal birth again. She was only 6lbs 5 oz at birth.

After that really difficult recovery after my vaginal birth with my daughter, I was really nervous to attempt to have another vaginal and the possibility of another level 4 laceration or worse.  I was relieved when my doctor suggested we do an U/S and see how big my son was going to be and if he looked to be at least a pound bigger than my daughter’s 6lb 5 oz, I could elect to have a c-section.  The U/S showed him to be quite a bit bigger. I elected to have the c-section.

I was very nervous about this, because I know that the recovery of a c-section is supposed to be really painful and difficult. I had some people tell me it was no big deal, others it was really hard. My recovery with my daughter was painful and long and I was hoping that having the pain in a different location would make it more bearable for me. With my daughter, it killed me to sit down. I couldn’t get comfortable at all.

Well, at 38 1/2 weeks, I had my elected c-section. Even though I didn’t get to hold Jarron right away, when I did hold him I was not out of it like I was Savannah, and I could enjoy him from the beginning. Even though I had a c-section, my recovery was one million percent easier and I was in far less pain. He was 7lbs 13 oz and I don’t feel for one second that I missed anything choosing to have a c-section. To this day, I know it was the best choice for me.

Kate’s Birth Story
by Heidi Wilhelm

On August 6, 1999, my husband, Guy, and I met with our HypnoBirthing instructor for our fourth and final class. Ten days later, on Monday, August 16, I woke in the morning to get ready to go to work like any other day. When I went to the bathroom before my shower, however, I discovered I had passed the uterine seal. We called the OB practice and Russ, our certified nurse-midwife, was on call. He suggested that we come in to the office later for a labor check. So Guy and I jumped into the car at 6:30 am to run into Hartford to get enough paperwork for me to work at home that day. When we arrived back home, we got a doctor appointment for 2:30 that afternoon for a labor check. Since it was possible that we’d be told that we were in labor and to check ourselves into the hospital, Guy packed the car. I started my workday.

We went to the doctor’s office for our appointment and saw the same doctor who had examined me the previous Friday for my routine visit. He had done an internal check three days ago and discovered that my cervix was 2 cm opened and 50% thinned. I was happy that our labor check would be done by the same doctor – we would be able to compare apples to apples.

He came into the exam room and said, “You’re here for a labor check?! You’re not in labor!” This was said as he walked into the room and hadn’t even touched me. He did another internal while the nurse told us, “You’ll know when you’re in labor!” The doctor admitted that we had progressed some, but not much, so he sent us home. We were disappointed – we had hoped this was it! I finished my workday at home without incident.

I did notice, however, that occasionally when I rested my hands on my belly, my palms could feel a tightening. I mentioned this to Guy and we wondered if I was experiencing Braxton-Hicks. I wasn’t feeling anything inside other than the baby’s usual movements.

Heidi Wilhelm

I worked until 5 pm and took a nap, as I often did in the evenings. I got up around 7 pm, had dinner, and went to bed for the night at 10 pm. Everything was just like any other night.

However, at midnight, my membranes released. I was awakened from a sound sleep with the impression that someone had dumped a pail of warm water on top of me. I called to Guy, who was working on his dissertation at the computer. He came running. Luckily, I had worn a sanitary pad to bed, which absorbed much of the liquid. Guy helped me to the bathroom, where I sat while he called the hospital and my mom.

My body started to feel as if I were having a period. Kind of crampy. I started getting nervous.

Guy came back to report that a nurse at the hospital said to get some sleep and to come in when the surges were 4-5 minutes apart. So we went to bed and listened to the Rainbow Relaxation tape. The bedside clock said 1:02 am when I got up to go to the bathroom. A surge had just passed before I stood up. Before I got to the bathroom (7-8 paces away), I felt another one. I asked Guy what time the clock said. He told me, “1:04.” I said, “They’re two minutes apart. Call the hospital.” We had never timed them before going to bed.

The hospital said to come in immediately. Thank goodness the car was packed already. It took me 20-25 minutes to get out to the car. It took so long because whenever I felt a surge, I had to stand still and concentrate in order to relax completely, but they were really starting to hurt. I remember thinking, “I don’t think I can do this for 36 hours.” Now I realize that I was feeling that hallmark of labor which is a signpost for the end – that the birth itself was really near. I didn’t know that then.

We were in the car at about 1:30 am. Even before that night, the bumps at the end of our road were uncomfortable, but that night they were horrible. I told Guy to drive really fast between the surges and really slowly and carefully during them. He knew when because I would squeeze his hand while trying to relax.

I tilted the seat back because I was more comfortable without a bend at the hips. I realized that I was fighting the surges and that I needed to relax, but I didn’t feel like I could.

It took 15 minutes to drive to the hospital. They were expecting us, so a wheelchair was on the way to the Emergency Room and Russ, our certified nurse-midwife, had been called. I sat in the wheelchair when it arrived, but had to stand up with each surge, so it took a while to get to the end of the corridor and the elevator. When the elevator arrived, I was standing and breathing through a surge and couldn’t move to get on. The elevator doors closed and the wheelchair attendant said, “We have to get on the next one.” I think he was getting nervous.

The doors opened again and we got on, but another surge had arrived when we got to the right floor. Guy embraced me and moved me off the elevator. The nurses met us and started to move us toward our room when all of a sudden, I threw up. All I had consumed was a few sips of water at midnight, so I was surprised. The nurses assured us that it wasn’t unusual.

They wheeled me to our room and I announced that I had to go to the bathroom. Terri, one of the nurses, showed me to the bathroom and asked if I wanted to be alone. I replied that I didn’t think that was a good idea. Moments later, I told her I felt the urge to push. She started moving rapidly – she helped me get undressed and back to the bed. I said that I wanted to birth while standing, but she replied that since Russ hadn’t yet arrived, she was short a pair of hands and needed me to be on the bed. So I decided to kneel on the foot of the bed. Terri did a quick internal check to learn that the baby was at station +2 – almost crowning.

I leaned heavily on a bar at the midpoint on the bed facing Guy who was sitting near the head of the bed. Russ arrived just as I started pushing, which was completely mother-led. I pushed for 10 minutes and it really hurt when the baby crowned, but the perineal massage worked! No perineum tears! I was worried that the quickness of the labor wouldn’t allow the perineum to stretch adequately, so I never really pushed hard. My muscles just did what they were designed to do and Kate was born at 2:11 am – less than 30 minutes after we arrived at the hospital!

Guy and the nurses helped me turn over to receive Kate. She started nursing immediately and the placenta was released easily. After it had stopped pulsating and had turned white, Guy cut the cord. Russ gave me two small stitches to the inner labia because I had had a slight inner tear. Kate had been born with her hand on her face, so her little elbow caught me on the way out. Her birth was completely unmedicated and without any medical intervention. Yahoo!

I suspect that practicing my HypnoBirthing tapes resulted in a state of constant relaxation. This relaxed state may explain why I literally felt nothing resembling labor before my membrane released at midnight even though my body must have been in labor for hours. I was also able to fall immediately into a deep sleep for my nap at 5 pm and again at 10 pm for what I thought would be the night. In addition, I put in a full workday without any issues. All told, I experienced my labor for literally 2 hours and 11 minutes. So the OB doctor and nurse were wrong – my body may have been laboring for hours before my mind knew it!

I believe that one of the biggest reasons I experienced discomfort (and pain near the end of labor) was because I was nervous and scared. This fear created tension in my body and that tension caused the pain. I didn’t realize how close we were to Kate’s birth when my membrane released. All those other women’s birth stories came crashing down on me. Remember, “I don’t think I can do this for 36 hours…”? In the car, I actually thought that maybe I would get an epidural. The car ride to the hospital made labor more difficult because I was not able to completely concentrate on relaxing. Having a hospital birth necessitated that drive; if I had planned a homebirth, I may have been able to completely relax and fall asleep using the Rainbow tape and wake up in time for Kate’s birth. In addition, she was born at 37 weeks gestation, so I wasn’t really expecting her yet. Her arrival was a bit of a surprise.

The hospital nurses didn’t realize how far along my labor was. Again, I didn’t look like the usual mother 15 minutes before birthing. This was demonstrated by Terri asking me if I wanted to be alone in the bathroom upon arrival to our birthing room. If she had realized that the baby was almost crowning, she wouldn’t have asked that!

Zach’s Birth Story
by Heidi Wilhelm
Well, my son Zach was born in 2002 on May 9 (his Daddy’s birthday too!). He was 8lbs, 3.5 oz and 22 inches long. It wasn’t a classically simple HypnoBirthing, unfortunately, but it was a successful HypnoBirthing. We experienced a couple of special circumstances.

My birthing process started at 1 am, but it really hurt! I tried relaxing in all different positions, but couldn’t get it to abate. I realized that the surges were happening every 3 or 4 minutes, and that it didn’t hurt until the middle of them, and that it only hurt at the base of my uterus along the crease at the top of my thighs. When the midwife arrived, we realized that it was the round ligaments that were hurting me – and ligaments don’t respond to deep relaxation! These ligaments were worn out from a respiratory virus that had been aggravating me for the past week and causing me to cough incessantly. I guess when the surges were pulling up and opening the cervix, they were also pulling on the ligaments. The surges themselves didn’t hurt at all! I could tell I was having one due to a tightening feeling, or if my hands were resting on my belly. I’ll tell you, I was mad! Here I was, deeply relaxing, doing all the right things for a HypnoBirthing, and it still hurt. Ugh! These ligaments also prevented me from lying down on my side, my back in a reclining position, or even on my knees. It was just too painful. They demanded that I be standing and swaying back and forth, up and down.

After laboring for 9 hours, my lungs were burning and my legs were burning. I felt like I must be completely dilated – I had all the hallmark signs – spotting on the pad, feeling like I couldn’t do this anymore, temperature fluctuations, etc. My midwife checked just to make sure and discovered that I was only 6 cm and the baby was oblique and wasn’t even presenting his head at the cervix!

To be completely honest, at this point I decided that I needed an epidural (didn’t happen) because I couldn’t breathe anymore and needed the pain to stop. I told her it was time to transport to the hospital. So we got into the car and by the time we arrived at the hospital (7 min ride) the baby had changed position. When we arrived and were checked, I was 9 cm. The nurse berated me to give a little push to open the cervix to 10. The only way she would let me stand back up again was to do it, but I was mad again! At that point I said, “Great, now we can go home again!” But Zach’s head was now ready to come down, so as soon as I stood back up again, she said to start pushing. I said that I didn’t want to push, that I was going to breathe the baby down which I did for a few minutes. The doctor wanted me to get back into or onto the bed because she’d never received while the mom was standing, but I said, “Sorry, not going to happen.” The nurse started perineal massage and I told her to get out of there and put my hand over my perineum to protect it. Then the uterus gave two expelling surges and his head was born. So I received Zach’s head – mine were the first hands to touch him! That was really neat. Crowning and birthing his head were easy. No problems or pain. But as his shoulder came out, they discovered that his other shoulder had the cord wrapped around it, so they pulled it out. I felt that and said, “Don’t pull! Don’t pull!” Too late, that’s when I think I tore. I think the cord being wrapped around his shoulder is what kept Zach in an oblique position for weeks.

Now in hindsight, I think if I hadn’t been so sick and tired from lack of sleep due to coughing, I would have been able to go up and down the stairs several times to help Zach get into the right position and would have been able to birth at home. Or if Zach had been in position at the cervix, then I would have been able to manage being sick. But I didn’t have the wherewithal to manage both. But I still had a natural, vaginal birth without interventions and now I have my beautiful baby. If not for HypnoBirthing, I think that this may have turned out to be a highly medicalized birth. Thank goodness for Mickey!

Unfortunately, they took Zach to the bassinet across the room because they assigned him an initial APGAR of 5 and he was a little blue. Guy, my fabulous husband, stayed with him, always having a hand on him. As soon as I got on the bed to wait for the placenta, I insisted that they bring the baby to me NOW. As soon as the nurses paused, Guy picked him up and took him away from them to bring him to me. We had immediate skin-to-skin and breastfeeding. He was and is perfect. Our doula told me later that she didn’t think he was a 5 APGAR at all. She thinks they just said that to justify taking him. His second APGAR was 8, so no problems.

I think I learned a lot from this birth – not the least that just because the first child is born at 37 weeks (my daughter Kate), the next one may have his own schedule – Zach was born at 41 weeks. Maybe he would have been earlier if he hadn’t been oblique. Who knows? But it was a very long 4 weeks from 37 to 41. I was emotionally and psychologically prepared for a baby at about 37 weeks! I had been under the very false theory that women have varying gestation periods, but that each woman will probably gestate for roughly the same period of time with each baby. WRONG!

Tess’s Birth Story
by Heidi Wilhelm
Tess’ birth was fabulous. She was born on Ash Wednesday, Feb 9, 2005. Since my two previous births had been at night or had started at night, I asked this baby to start labor after breakfast and a shower. I also requested that she (I thought I was carrying a girl) be born by 3pm (so my adrenaline would be low enough after birth to let me sleep that night), in the water, and head first. Tess agreed to all these requests!

On Wednesday morning, Guy had a meeting at work until 9:30. At about 9am, it felt like we might have an exciting day. I called his voice mail at work to ask him to come home after the meeting, but not to rush. Everything was fine. By then, I had already eaten breakfast and had my shower and gotten dressed. The kids were playing with Mema, my mom. I just wandered around the house and would squat whenever I felt a surge. I was hoping I could help them be really efficient.

Guy arrived home around 10:15 and we started timing the surges and making a log. I felt fine. By late morning, I decided to call Ruth, our midwife. Ruth asked if she could make a stop before coming over, and I said, “Absolutely. We have plenty of time.”

Zach went down for his nap and I called Brandi, our doula, whose role was to be available for the kids if they wanted to be present for the baby’s birth. I asked her to come over around 2pm, when I expected Zach to be awake.

Ruth arrived around 12:30pm and observed me during a few surges, and asked me how long I had been working so hard to get through them. I answered that I wasn’t working hard, and she repeated the question, more forcefully. I realized then that this was Ruth’s first HypnoBirthing, so she wasn’t familiar with normal HypnoBirthing moms’ behavior. She really wanted to know how long the surges had been feeling that strong, so I told her that it had been around 90 minutes. She immediately called the other midwife, Marlene. Marlene was at Ash Wednesday services and she would be over when they were finished.

Because I didn’t want to get into the water tub too early, Guy and I went down to the basement TV room to watch Friends on DVD. I went to the bathroom and realized that the surges were getting pretty strong. I wanted to stand through them and lean heavily on Guy. We decided to go upstairs and get into the birthing tub we had rented from Waterbirth International. It felt really good to get into the water. The room was quiet and dim. My music was playing. When Zach awoke from his nap, Guy took him downstairs to play with Mema and Kate. I was on my hands and knees in the water. I got out of the water to go to the bathroom, which was a pretty cold walk on a cold tile floor. As I sat on the toilet with Guy to my right and Ruth to my left, I started shivering even though I was wearing my bathrobe. Ruth asked me if I was cold or if I was shaking for another reason, and I said probably both. She told me that if I wanted to have a water birth, I had better get back into the tub, so we shuffled back into the birthing room.

Kate came up to visit and sat in Marlene’s lap for a little while. Because my eyes were closed, I wasn’t aware that Marlene and Brandi had arrived, nor did I know about Kate’s visit. Everyone was really quiet. Guy got into the water with me and I draped myself over his shoulders. I would vocalize with each surge and got to the point of wondering when the baby would be born. I didn’t feel like we were making any progress. (I had not had any internal exams.) I realize now that those thoughts were the final hallmark of labor – wanting the birth to be over. Indeed Tess was born at 2:52pm, less than an hour after our doula arrived. I experienced the birthing reflex when the birthing body pushes the baby out. I think she was born in three or four of the expulsive surges. What power our bodies have! She weighed 8lbs 4 oz and she looked exactly like my other two children. We must be making clones around here!

Having a home birth with Ruth was absolutely amazing. The birth was peaceful, quiet, and all mine. Of all my births, I’ve never felt safer.