As Birth Story Month comes to a close here on the WTG blog, I’ve decided to include my own birth stories as well. They definitely play into my story of becoming a midwife, but more importantly, they are a huge part of who I am as a whole, and the journey that I am on. So blessed by these little people that I have been given the opportunity to mother.
I wrote this story back in 2003 not long after Malachi was born. It’s very interesting to read the story almost 10 years (and hundreds of births) later. At the time, I was a hospital doula and had seen many interventions and negative outcomes. It was huge for me to have a homebirth with my first baby, and I felt so empowered. I had come a long way from that fast-food-twinkie-eating-latch-key-couch-potato that I was once was! I eat organic food and I choose homebirth!
And even so, I can see how it was still very much the beginning of my journey. If you read carefully, you may see the influence of my hospital births, and the many points where I was trying to be in control of my birth – positions I was in, who was there at what time, how many vaginal exams I had (out of curiosity and impatience, and just not knowing any better), and interventions (though I would never have called them that at the time). But, as a wise woman recently said to me after her own experience, “Always learning as we go…Next time I will do better, and that’s all I can do from now on.”
Malachi’s Birth Story:
In June of 2002, I married a wonderful man named Caleb and a minute later….we were pregnant with our first child. I have had the honor of attending many births and yet the personal and awesome experience of childbirth was more than I ever imagined!
At 40 weeks, we scheduled our next midwife appointment for the following week. Christie said, “We’ll schedule it just in case, but these usually end up being postpartum visits ”.
I laughed at her because I’ve had many first time moms think the same thing and then they are still pregnant two weeks later. I was determined not to be one of those depressed women wondering why she hasn’t had her baby yet. So I was prepared to wait it out.
We left Christie’s and proceeded to Amici’s Italian Restaurant, which I haven’t eaten at in years. We had a big salad and split a calzone. It was yummy!
And, apparently just what my body needed to kick me into labor……
I awoke with Caleb the next morning as he was getting ready to leave for work. It was around 8AM and I casually mentioned that I was having some contractions. They were similar to the braxton hix contractions I had been having but a little different. I timed a few and they were about 15-20 minutes apart. But, I remembered my midwife’s instructions (as if I’ve never told any of my clients any of these things) to time a few and then ignore them so as not to be so focused on early labor. Plus, I was telling myself they would go away and start up again about a week later. I did remember to rest some and save up my energy. I refused to call anyone, because who knew if this was real or not and I didn’t want my doula driving from Longmont (with her 4 week old baby) and my husband leaving work if it’s not for real. Besides, I had a much-needed haircut scheduled with my cousin for that evening that I was determined to get before I had a baby.
After a couple of hours, I got up and started in around the house. I did a load of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, took a shower, which just happened to turn into a hot bath to help me relax. While in the bathtub, I heard my husband’s voice on the answering machine saying he was going to lunch with a friend across the street (to be close). At this point I was thinking, maybe I’ll have my cousin come here to give me a haircut when she gets out of school at 2:30p instead of driving to Northglenn.
I got out of the bath and as I was squatting during a contraction, which was still pretty mild when…..”Can you believe those baseboards? How did they get so dirty?” Which is what my husband came home to (about 1:45p), me squatting in the bathroom, breathing and cleaning baseboards.
I called my mom and told her the situation. She had some things I needed at her house so she left work to come down. Chrisite has a history of clients that only give her driving time before they have their babies, and I didn’t want to do that to her either. So, I decided I would call her when Caleb got home. Well, it’s as if I was waiting to kick into active labor until he got home as well. He was in and out of the house bringing the tub inside, installing the carseat in the car, etc. You know, all the things that you wait to do until the last minute and then wish you had done them earlier. I was on the phone with Christie and Ranelle (my doula), while sitting on the ball, telling them that I was in early labor but doing o.k. and that they had time. Christie said she would go home to get her stuff ready and call back in an hour if she hadn’t heard from me. Ranelle went to lay down with baby Blake to get some rest.
Caleb started timing contractions at 3:42p and they were 3-5 minutes apart and lasting a minute to a minute and a half long. We enjoyed our last few minutes by ourselves before everyone arrived. By the time Christie was to call back, I was ready. I had Caleb tell her to come and he also called Ranelle and asked her to make the trip down as well. I guess I’m not going to get my haircut after all, and I’m finally willing to admit that I’m in labor.
Christie arrived around 4:40p and then my mom and they worked on getting the tub filled. Ranelle followed shortly after with baby Blake, who helped tremendously by reminding me with his occasional sweet little noises, that I was going to have a baby!
Christie checked me at 5:25p and I was 4cm, 90% effaced, -1 station, which was mostly acceptable to me. She then called the assistant midwife and asked her to come as well. Contractions were 3 minutes apart, lasting 1-2 minutes. I labored for a little while with the heating pad, while swaying in my bedroom, and then moved to the bed where Ranelle, Caleb and my mom alternated massaging my back.
My mother-in-law and sister-in-law came and left almost unnoticed, except for their quick wave as they walked by, and the huge spread of food they brought us – rotisserie chicken, grapes, celery with peanut butter, yum! Just a little different than the normal ice chip routine that I usually see in the hospital!
I got back into the shower with Caleb so he could massage my back until they got the tub filled (note to anyone having a homebirth – turn up the water heater to HIGH). He prayed that God would release us from all fear and when we got out, we both had such a peace about us.
I got into the tub at 6:40p, which is where I stayed for the next 4 hours, either squatting or on my knees. Caleb also got pruney with me as he applied pressure to my back with every contraction, and had to withstand the incredible heat that I kept asking to be added to the water.
At 7:30p contractions were 2 minutes apart lasting 60-90 seconds. Christie checked me at 8:25p and I expected to hear that I was 8.5cm (like Ranelle was on her 1st check!!) because I knew my contractions were strong, close and long. Transition right? No – I was 5-6cm. “But very thin, and remember it takes longer to get from 1-5 than from 5-10″ etc. etc. and all the things we tell people, when they aren’t as far as they expected to be and are discouraged. I started crying, also one of the things that I think is a good thing for my clients in labor because they release all of their control. Though, I wasn’t very positive about it happening to me.
My sweet husband held me and encouraged me to “cry it out” which I did…for about 30 seconds, until my next contraction hit. So, I lumbered my way up from leaning on him, back to my squatting position. Ranelle encouraged me that though this was hard, she knew I could do it. And having just been at her birth the month before with the same birth team, this meant so much to me. She also prayed for strength and assurance for me to continue. Now I know the added assurance that an experienced woman brings (not that women that don’t have children can’t be wonderful doulas and midwives!!).
At that point, I really felt the baby move down, and I knew I had to pull it together and deal with these contractions if I was going to make it through. My breathing changed so much that Christie asked me if my contractions had changed (thinking maybe they had lessened in intensity). I started to answer and said “They’re kinda……” and then another contraction hit me. At 9:05p I was feeling more pressure and at 10p I was 9cm with a lip on the right side, 0 station and grunty in the tub. Ellie (assistant midwife) encouraged me to get out of the tub (I didn’t want to have the baby in the tub so I needed to move into the next room for the birth), as the movement itself might encourage the rest of the cervix to move away. I wasn’t willing to get out until I knew I would be able to push soon.
At 10:30p I was 9.5 cm and still had a little bit of cervix on the right side. So, I asked Christie to see if she could “Please make it go away”. So, while I sat on the ball and leaned back on Caleb, she held the rim back while I pushed through 1 contraction. Then on the second contraction, I couldn’t stand her holding it anymore because I had this incredible lower back pain. She felt like it had moved up over the baby’s head so I moved from the ball to the futon couch and leaned over the back of it for the next few contractions. As I pushed, I couldn’t stand the pain and loudly groaned/yelled for a couple of contractions, as I squatted into them. Finally, I was determined that this wasn’t going to go away until I had this baby and I pushed through the incredible pain. Then, at 10:54p my water broke! I was able to push well, with the pain not as intense in my back, and they could see the head. Christie asked me to turn around because the baby was not going to clear the edge of the futon with me squatting on the edge, facing backwards. So, I squatted in front of the futon while Caleb sat behind me and supported me.
AND…..at 11:07p on 4/29/03 Malachi Joseph Seeling was born!!
He weighed 8lbs 4oz and was 21 ¼ inches long. And do you know at his 6 week visit, he already weighed 13lbs 4oz? Chalk 1 up for breastfed babies!
Malachi’s birth was absolutely wonderful. I have waited almost 30 years and it was all I could have asked the Lord for.
My birth team was wonderful and my dear sweet husband was the best partner and support that I could ever have imagined. I am so blessed by Malachi and thankful for this wonderful opportunity!
And a true testimony to homebirth, my husband – a skeptic in the beginning of our homebirth conversations, was a true believer throughout labor and said he couldn’t imagine it any other way!