Trusting My Body: Ailia’s Birth Story

January 27th, 2012 by Dionna | 17 Comments
Posted in Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting, Pregnancy and Birth

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Welcome to the first edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama!
In the month of January, we start afresh, a new year, new ideas. Hence, our participants have looked into the topic of “Birth and New Beginnings”. Take a look at the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants.

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The first contraction woke me at 1:45a.m. While the contraction was very light, something instinctual told me that this was the beginning of the real deal. I untangled myself from Kieran’s legs and reluctantly left the warmth of our family bed to use the restroom. Another light contraction washed over me while I was in the bathroom, and I decided to stay up for a few minutes to see if the contractions would pick up or peter out.

After another contraction or two, I nudged Tom at 2:00a.m. and told him that I was fairly certain I was in labor. He asked if I needed him, and I told him to get more rest – I wanted to take a shower. Not only had I not showered for a few days, but I also thought that a shower might slow the contractions down if this wasn’t really labor. The warm water felt marvelous, and I don’t remember contracting while I was in the shower, but as soon as I got out and began to dress, another much stronger contraction came on. I took time to dry my hair and let my friends and family know that we were anticipating a Thanksgiving baby.

In the fifteen minutes it took me to finish those tasks, my contractions had gone from mildly annoying to increasingly uncomfortable. I woke Tom up at 2:50a.m. and asked him to get the dining room ready. The two biggest tasks would be moving the table and chairs and setting up the birth tub. I also called my midwife, Amber, to let her know that we were setting the room up. When I called her, my contractions were about five minutes apart and 45 seconds long. She asked if I could talk through them; I considered that and said “well, if I had to, yes, but it wouldn’t be pleasant.” Amber told me to call her back when the contractions were two to three minutes apart and a minute long.

The only picture we got from labor - Kieran patting my head while I reach down to touch Ailia's head (this is the edited version).

I hung up the phone and told Tom to start timing my contractions. He started timing immediately, because a strong one had just hit. As he started getting the room ready, my focus centered abruptly on the waves of contractions. I hesitate to call them painful – although they were – but I felt so calm, so wonderfully assured that my body knew exactly what it was doing.

I remember thinking that this labor was absolutely nothing like my labor with Kieran. While there are obvious differences – my labor with Kieran took 30+ hours at a birth center with a medically-minded midwife, my labor with Ailia took only 2.5 hours at home, and I labored alone for most of that time – the mental differences are what really amaze me. With Kieran’s birth, I felt scared and out of control during much of my labor. I remember struggling against my body – I was fighting contractions, and when the midwife told me to push (hours before my body was ready to push), I had no idea what I was supposed to do. With Ailia’s birth, I felt prepared. I’d been doing daily relaxation techniques and affirmations because I was so nervous that I would have a repeat of Kieran’s birth. I had convinced myself that my body knew what to do – all I had to do was give myself over to it.

And that’s what I did. When contractions felt like they would overpower me, I retreated to the part of my mind where I felt safe and calm. I still felt the contractions, but at some deeper level of my consciousness, I accepted them.

So after hanging up with Amber, Tom timed the next four contractions: they were two to three minutes apart and over a minute long. I texted Amber around 3:20a.m. and told her, and she said she’d get ready to head over. By now, I was vocalizing loudly through contractions. I’d also made several trips to the bathroom and seen a hint of bloody show. Tom was still setting up the birth pool, and I asked him to come help me through a couple of particularly difficult contractions. He pushed against my hips, and the counter-pressure felt so good.

Tom went back to the birth pool, and as I watched him finish the liner, I mentally rolled my eyes – there was no way I would be getting in there. During a break, I tried to clue Tom in to this fact, but he was intent on finishing his job. (He later told me he’d thought I was crazy, in no way did he think I was close to having a baby.) At some point during this time, Amber texted and said to let her know when I wanted her to head over. I immediately texted back one word: Now. I knew it was time. I also (belatedly) realized that I should call Lacy, my birth photographer, but as I searched for her number, another big contraction forced me to abandon that task.

When that particular contraction hit, it was just past 4:00a.m. I’d been using the birth ball to support myself, calmly and steadily moaning through each one. But this one was big, and the panic threatened to unnerve me for the first time. My brain registered the intensity of the pain, and I started to lose my focus. But some inner peace – a peace I never imagined myself capable of – wrapped its arms around that hurting, scared part of me and whispered, “You can do this. Your body is designed for this, and you are amazing.

And I believed myself! I took a breath and got it together, and in the next moment, I realized I was really about to have a baby. In that very next contraction, I felt Ailia descend through my pelvis. It was the most incredible feeling – I was so aware and in tune with everything going on in my body that I could practically visualize the baby moving through me. As soon as she had descended, I felt my body gearing up to push.

I hollered1 to Tom and told him that I was about ready to push. He asked if I was sure, then he started to mess around with the birth pool again. I told him that it was too late for the pool and asked him to help me take my pajama pants off. He helped me move over to the plastic drop cloth, and another contraction hit as I was struggling out of my pants – a pushing one. I dropped to my hands and knees, Tom rolled the birth ball over to me, and I groaned.

At the next break, we heard Kieran wake up. Tom went in to get Kieran, and while he was in the bedroom I reached down and felt Ailia’s head during another contraction. I called to Tom and Kieran, asking Tom to get back in with me right now. When he got back in, I breathlessly peppered him with requests: call Amber, get the camera and take pictures, get the camcorder and record, and for the love of God get over here and help!! Tom managed to get one (dark, blurry) picture, he turned on the camcorder and threw it on the table (so there is sound, but no picture), and he called Amber and threw the phone on a chair.

As I pushed, I gently massaged and stretched my skin with my fingers, and I roared. Kieran sleepily wandered into the dining room as Ailia’s head was starting to come out. He walked behind me to look, then he ran back around, rubbed my head, and said “You can do this, mama!” At some point, Tom asked Kieran to get on the phone with Amber, and you can hear Kieran’s little voice on our (pictureless) video say, ”Amber? Can you come help? Mama is having a baby right now.” just as calm as calm can be.

I remember a few things very distinctly from my pushing stage. The first is how calm and collected Tom and Kieran both were. You’d think that I give birth on our dining room floor quite regularly with how ho-hum they seemed to be at the time. The most vivid physical feeling I remember is after Ailia’s head and shoulders were out. I yelled at Tom to “stop pushing me! Stop touching me!” because I thought he had randomly started to put counter pressure on my hips again – but it was like he was moving me from the inside. It was the strangest feeling. Tom responded, “honey that’s not me, the baby is squirming to get out.” And so she was! Tom could see her squirming from the outside, and I felt her pushing against me from the inside. I said “Get ready to catch, here it comes!”

Within seconds, Ailia and I worked together and she was in Tom’s hands. I had another moment of panic when she did not move or breathe (for what seemed like much longer than it was), and then she took her first breath as I held her to my chest. Once she was breathing I looked and announced she was a girl. Within about two minutes I birthed my placenta in one easy push – between the quick placenta delivery and a part of the umbilical cord that looked like it had been squeezed, Amber thinks that Ailia probably grabbed on and pulled the placenta along with her.

And so went our short – and incredibly empowering – homebirth. I am so thankful that I believed in the wisdom and power of my body- I know that my faith in myself helped make this experience so peaceful and gentle. And Tom and I have agreed – if we ever have another baby, we’ll just have a midwife on standby.


?Visit Authentic Parenting and MudpieMama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 27 with all the carnival links.)

  1. yes, hollered might be the appropriate term in this instance

17 Responses to:
"Trusting My Body: Ailia’s Birth Story"

  1. Melissa   VibrantWanderer

    Oh, goodness. I have tears welling up in my eyes and a huge grin on my face. What an incredible, encouraging, empowering story! I love Kieran’s response – to immediately encourage you. Love that he was so calm. Clearly all of the preparation you did served him well. Just amazing :)

  2. Crunchy Con Mommy   crunchyconmom

    What a beautiful birth story! So inspiring. Isn’t it amazing how different births are from each other?? I’ll definitely remember your calm lovely birth next time I have a baby (if I’m lucky enough to have more!)

  3. Lovely story – thank you for sharing. It’s not unlike my experience with my daughter’s birth (also a second child) – though it sounds like you were a lot more in tune with what was happening to your body than I was. Pushing totally took me by surprise; I had no idea I was that close when it started. My poor baby was almost born into the toilet!

  4. Amy   anktangle

    Wow! Fast and furious–way to go, mama!

  5. What a beautiful birth! Reminds me so much of my third birthing experience which was also a fast and furious 2 hr labor. Even the part where you described the “Ailia squirming to get out” was like my Bella!
    thank you for sharing this amazing birth story!

  6. Amy   Amy_willa

    What a beautiful write-up of a really intense and wonderful experience! (PS – I like the unedited labor picture better. . . but I totally understand why you edited <3) Way to go, mama!

  7. Visiting from the AP Carnival!

    I always get teary eyed when it gets to the birth part! Congrats on such an amazing birth! I’m a bit envious, actually. I would have loved to have a home birth (and yours sounds perfect!)… but our birth was right for us and was still the most wonderful birth experience I’ve had!

  8. Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama   hybridrastamama

    Oh wow! That was a beautiful birth story although I was sad to see an edited picture! ;) You are a lucky mama to have had such an empowering birth. It was beautiful to read how you were able to be some present and aware yet at the same time go deep within and draw out that ancestral strength. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Melissa Vose   WhiteNoiseWoman

    GORGEOUS. Man I love this story. You’re amazing! I was just wondering this week whether you had any fears surrounding Ailia’s birth, knowing that Kieran had been in the NICU (I had not read his birth story so I wasn’t sure of the details). I’m so glad you were filled with such a profound sense of peace. THIS is birth the way it was created. <3

  10. Jennifer

    I LOVE reading positive birth stories as I am currently expecting my first. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    That is so lovely! I’m with Jorje on being teary-eyed. You’re right that there were many similarities between our surprise-unassisted stories. I still can’t believe how short your labor was — I love to hear how empowered and purposeful you felt, and I’m glad you had the support team you had (Tom’s steadiness plus Kieran’s hand on your shoulder, his reassurance, his call to the midwife – aw!!) even if it meant you didn’t get all the pictures you’d hoped for. ;) I love that one you have (especially in full, lol).

    Congratulations on your speedy, beautiful birth! It’s so healing to have such a good one, isn’t it?

  12. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    Oh, I forgot, I wanted to say, too: I think it’s cool that this whole pregnancy and birth had a “trusting my body” theme for you. It feels like your body really served you well, and I’m so glad for your confidence in it. It’s very inspiring!

    P.S. I love how we’re both talking “next time” now. :) We were pretty certain we’d be done with two, but — oh! This was all so fun!

    • Sheila   aLivingFamily

      I already commented to you on Facebook about how much I love this, but I had to butt in about this having a third business. What is that?! The first time, I thought about having a second the day after. This time, the same day I was thinking “I want to have another, just to see what labor and birth will be like and I would make sure to get a video of crowning and pushing out the head. More specific thoughts were: Could it be half the time again; the second was only 2 hrs, half the first….and, I wonder if I would puke again in labor like I did these times….Silly me. But here’s the two of you talking thirds…..LOL

      All blessings to you and your family. Thank you for telling your inspiring story and for all that you do.
      ~sheila

  13. mamapoekie   mamapoekie

    Sobbing… I deliberately waited to read your story, because I wasn’t quite sure if I could handle it. STrange how you felt her squirming. Yemi literally kicked me between contractions and it felt as if something was wrong. I never ever read something like that… Kudos to you for your lovely birth!

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