First, let me say WELCOME to our son Quinn! He is 5 days old in the photo above. He was 7lbs, 11 oz when he was born, on September 3, 2008. It was a beautiful planned home birth with Martha Roth attending. We are happy to share the story below and hope that women everywhere will choose to see a midwife, study Bradley Method and HypnoBirthing techniques for natural childbirth and arrange for a birth tub at their birthing location. Birthing at home may not be right for everyone, but it's not the messy, risky, archaic thing that most people think. A planned home birth can be safer than a hospital birth for a healthy women having a normal pregnancy. By staying at home, we ensured that everything that happened was in our control, that the environment was relaxing and comfortable and that we were able to include Milo in the entire process. I wish more people were open to this option and understood how wonderful and empowering it can be. If I can do it, so can you!!
Quinn Leo's Birth Story
On Wednesday September 3rd I went over to my friend Marie’s house around noon for a play date with Milo. We had a great time and left at about 3 pm. On the 30 minute drive home I had two cramps that made me very uncomfortable in the driver’s seat, but I dismissed them since I had been getting Braxton Hick’s contractions in the car for the last two weeks.
When I got home I laid Milo down for a nap and sat down at the kitchen table to check email. I had another cramp that was uncomfortable to stay sitting through and I wondered if I was having contractions. Of course they kept coming and they seemed very regular so I began to stand up and walk around when I would have one and I started timing them. After about an hour it was clear that they were coming every 10-15 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds. They were not terribly painful, but I would have to breath through them a little bit. I called Chris at work at 4:45 and told him that he should head home a bit early and try to get here as soon as he could, that I might be in labor!
Chris got home at 6 pm and we stuck to our regular routine of playing with Milo and getting dinner ready. At 7 pm I called our midwife to let her know that I was having contractions, but that she didn’t need to come over yet. I told her I wanted to eat a little bit, have a shower and lay down to see if this was the real thing. She said that if she didn’t hear from us by 10 pm, she would call back to check in. I ate some noodles and took a shower while Chris gave Milo a bath. I had stopped timing the contractions, but I had at least 3 in the shower and I was getting the feeling that things were progressing and that we would be having the baby that night.
At 8:30 pm I laid down on our bed and started listening to the meditation and labor music that I had from our Bradley and Hypno-birthing classes on my iPod. Milo and Chris came in and I realized that I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore and they were feeling a bit stronger, but still very manageable. Chris and I talked about when we should call Martha back and ask her to come over. She was an hour away and while we didn’t want to wait too long, but we also didn’t want to call her too soon. I felt that I wanted her to be at the house at about 10 pm, but I was kind of waiting for things to get a bit more intense, so Chris went to Milo’s room to read him some books and I rested until they were ready for me to come in and snuggle with Milo until he fell asleep. We never made it that far though, because just before 9 pm I had a really crazy contraction that made me get up off the bed. It lasted a full minute and left me feeling dizzy and shaky. I told Chris it was time to call Martha, I couldn’t snuggle Milo to sleep and I needed to get into the tub.
That one contraction took me from early labor to active labor. There was nothing gradual about it, it was just BANG, let’s get busy. I was probably 5 or 6 cm by this point and had been in labor for five and a half hours. Chris called Martha and told her we needed her to come over. She didn’t even ask what was going on, she just said she would be right over. She could tell that we were ready for her. Chris took Milo into the living room to watch The Jungle Book. I got in the tub and the water felt instantly great. A few contractions didn’t even register as the typical crampy feeling, I just started shaking and vibrating and needed to moan into the tub. I loved the way my voice bounced off the water. I was on my knees, hugging the edge of the tub, and when a contraction would start I would rock up and down, or stretch out my legs and make an “ohhhhh” sound as it peaked. It was definitely like a wave that started out slowly and built up more and more until it peaked and then subsided. The contractions were now 4 minutes apart and lasting a full minute.
Chris recorded one of these contractions and I said I felt dizzy and out of breath, that I was close to going nuts and yet I am the picture of calm with my eyes closed and arms and head resting on the edge of the tub. I remember feeling like my head was spinning, I felt overwhelmed and yet also euphoric. What a natural high! It seems to me that there were lots of natural endorphins swirling around inside my body. Chris was feeding me ice chips and water, he was right there beside me, telling me how long the waves were lasting and that I was doing great, holding my hand and putting a cold wash cloth on my neck. I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom at 10 pm. Maybe it was the temperature change, or the gravity change, but all of a sudden the contractions were right on top each other and they were making me double over. I sat down on the toilet and pulled Chris down in front of me to lean on him for support. During this crazy contraction I saw Martha pull up in the driveway. The contraction ended with me feeling like I needed to push, so I did. I saw Martha standing at the bathroom door and she asked why I wasn’t in the tub. I told her that I had been in the tub for the last hour but that I had to go to the bathroom. She said I could pee in the tub and that I aught to hurry back in there before another contraction came.
So back into the tub I went and again, everything was different. Since I had the urge to push I was probably fully dilated by this point. I asked Martha if she wanted to check me and she said that I could check myself. So, I did. I could feel his head, it was soft and kind of squishy because my water hadn’t broken yet. It was strange to check myself, but also very empowering. The waves were coming fast now, almost right on top of each other, and they would wash over me completely, leaving me spinning and saying “Wow, wow…” “That was intense!” or “Oh my god!” I was vocalizing a lot by this point, much louder than before, but not frantically. It was calm, controlled and with purpose. I needed to make different sounds at different times, depending on what my body needed to do. Some sounds were high, some were low and deep and some were the typical “hee hee hee” breathing that they teach in Lamaze. It was amazing how I just followed my instincts and knew how to cope with each different sensation. There was so much energy in the room.
The freedom of movement I had in the tub was also amazing. I was mostly on my knees during active labor, but now during the pushing phase I was moving all over the place. I would stretch out my legs, flip from one side to the other or crunch up into a squat when I needed to bear down. It was so wonderful to just be able to move so easily into the positions that I needed to be in.
So, while all this is going on, Milo was in the other room watching the Jungle Book. Chris would check on him periodically, but it wasn’t until after Martha arrived, and the sounds I was making got more intense, that he began to pay attention. I glimpsed him peering at us from across the house and he began to call for us. Martha went in to see him and then Milo came over to the tub. I was able to mentally return to the room for a minute to reassure him that I was ok. I asked him if he was helping me breathe and he did a few breaths with me. I asked him if he wanted a hug or a kiss, but he said no. Luckily that was all he needed from me, because I got swept away in the waves again, and was right back in the middle of delivering the baby. Milo hung around us now, maybe sensing that we were near the end. He was dipping his arms in the tub, running back and forth and checking in with Chris and Martha. None of this bothered me, I was so consumed with my own experience.
And so, in that way, the baby came down. Martha gently checked me close to the end. She told me that when my water broke, I would feel a lot of pressure and then the baby would be right there. Not more than a few minutes later, when I was bearing down, I felt a pop and a little gush of water. Instantly I felt the baby’s head crown and I reached down to hold it in saying “Slow! Slow!” I didn’t want to tear and I knew it would be better if I let the tissues stretch a bit first before I let go. This part was the most painful for me with Milo, but this time it was not painful at all. It was amazing to feel so in control and that I was doing this myself! I breathed through another minute or so and then his head was out. I had rotated myself so I was floating on my back and with the next push the baby shot out into the water towards the bottom of the tub. It was 10:32 pm. I said, “He’s out! He’s out. Pick him up!” But Martha waited and then I realized that I was supposed to pick him up! I reached down, turned him over and pulled him out of the water. There was no blood, no mess, just a little wet baby covered in vernix! I put him on my chest and heard Chris exclaim, “Incredible! You’re incredible!!” It was an amazing moment.
We called Milo over and he met his brother seconds after he was born. Quinn had his eyes open and was looking right at me. He whimpered and cried a little bit, but calmed down right away and was so alert and aware. Milo kissed him, we all did, and just kind of marveled at him for a while. Martha placed the birth stool under me to sit on and started draining the tub. I delivered the placenta and Martha discovered that there was a perfect knot in Quinn’s long umbilical cord. It’s a very rare thing to have, it means that at some time early in the pregnancy when Quinn was small enough, he swam through a loop in the cord and tied the knot. It is potentially life threatening but if the cord is long enough and there is enough Wharton’s Jelly then there are rarely problems.
I got out of the tub and got into bed with Quinn and Milo. Twenty minutes after he was born, Quinn was nursing and we were making phone calls to our family. It was so wonderful to be in our own bed, to not feel rushed to go anywhere or do anything. Quinn’s temperature warmed up because of skin to skin contact with me and during his exam, about an hour and a half after he was born, he weighed 7 lbs, 11 oz, measured 20 inches and all his reflexes and vitals checked out. The midwives left shortly after that, around 1am, on their way to another women who was in labor, and we all fell asleep cuddled together in one bed. It was such a wonderful way to start our life with Quinn.