A Family Birth
by Sherry Perkins
Dylan Thomas Perkins – Born June 6, 2003
People have asked me why I chose to have Dylan at home without a Midwife or Doctor. There are many reasons, but the one that stands out in my head is that I wanted my baby to be born in the safest, most gentle way possible. In my heart, that meant taking full and total responsibility for my pregnancy and birth. I needed to trust God to guide me, the way He had so many times before. I could have chosen to get prenatal care and go to a hospital for ‘safety’ but I know in my heart that there is no other person who truly has my baby’s best interest at heart. A caregiver has many patients, a schedule to keep, rules of the hospital to follow … a whole different agenda than a mother’s … my babies are my top priority and that would never change.
I knew that trusting my God-given maternal instincts was the best and safest way to have my baby. I woke up around 5:30 on Friday, June 6, 2003 with contractions which seemed different than the ones I had been experiencing … I felt them in my cervix and suspected this may be the day. I was two or three days past my due date, depending on which online due date calculator I chose. I knew the week I conceived and knew this was my due week, so I was hopeful this may be the big day. I was getting a little uncomfortable at that point … my big belly was weighing me down, my hips ached and mostly, I was anxious to meet my new baby. After a minute in the bathroom, I wiped and didn’t see anything so I got discouraged; thinking it was going to be another day of contractions but no baby. I said a quick prayer asking God for a definite sign, because I wanted to be able to keep Jeff home from work that evening if necessary, but didn’t want him to take the night off for on again off again labor. I wiped again and found bloody mucus. Praise God, this was my sign! I had never had any bloody show or lost my mucus plug with previous births so this was totally new to me.
While sitting there, I got so excited at the thought of meeting Winky (the nickname given to our unborn baby by my [then] youngest child, Sara. She worried that the baby would “never get pushed out” if he or she didn’t have a name, so we called the baby Winky after the first few weeks of pregnancy. I said one more prayer, asking God to please give me reassurance and confirmation throughout my labor by having Winky move and kick inside me. There I sat, on the toilet, speaking out loud to The Lord and my unborn babe … asking for occasional movement as it was all that I needed to know baby was well, and God answered that prayer for me, again and again that day, so I was never fearful.
I never bothered timing the contractions but figured they were coming every 4 – 6 min all morning, getting a little more intense each hour. We filled up the pool in the bedroom and I got in around 1:15pm. That was bliss! It eased the intensity of the contractions to the point that I barely noticed them. I believe the warm water allowed me to relax enough to speed things up. I labored in the water for about an hour, talking with Jeff and the kids and floating around in my pool.
I smiled through the contractions and felt so completely relaxed and content. I was in labor and not feeling pressure from outsiders. It was wonderful. The contractions got more intense just before my water broke, which was sometime around 2:30. What a huge relief that was … it was as if there was all of this pressure building up and suddenly, it was gone and I was comfortable and relaxed again. All felt right in the world; Jeff was home, and the children were all here … Jeff sat in the bedroom with me, basically keeping me company.
He was a little stressed, but handled things very well at that point. Christopher (my 13yo son) was in charge of filling the birth pool and refilling with warm water, as I needed it. The girls brought me fresh drinks a couple of times, and cheered me with their excitement. Kaylie appeared in the bedroom at one point in her bathing suit… she loves to swim and I assume she figured she could join me in the pool, but I needed the space and freedom to move around in there. Sara refilled my glass with distilled water when I got thirsty. Jeff held my hand and cracked jokes when he thought I needed his humor. It was a team effort!
Around 3:30 – 4pm, I started to really focus on labor … I felt pushy – not like I needed to push the baby out – I simply let my body push little pushes with each contraction. I didn’t know whether I was dilated or effaced and didn’t care about what “station” baby was inside. I just followed my body’s cues and my instincts. I knew that if I had been attended by a Midwife or Doctor, they would have instructed me to blow through those contractions … I also knew that my body was pushing for a reason, and I needed to do what felt right to me. It felt wonderful to push little pushes with each contraction, rather than focusing on them or trying to breathe through them … it allowed for a near painless labor, at least until the final half hour when I could do nothing but concentrate on pushing and letting my baby out. There were times when I leaned over the edge of the pool, with my nightgown clenched in my teeth … I flashed on women of olden days biting down on a wooden spoon during labor and giggled for a second at the thought.
Jeff dozed on the bed for an hour and a half. It was probably his way of handling the stress, and I needed the privacy so I let him sleep. He later told me that he was never asleep and could hear me praying out loud, but was stressed and trying to remain calm by resting. I sent the kids out to the living room to do art projects and play with play dough. I think Chris got on the computer and kept an eye on Kaylie and Sara while they played. They were all very quiet and respectful of my labor. I was very happy to be alone and able to do exactly what I needed, without anyone watching me. Chris came to check on me a few times, and I assured him that I was fine. My bedroom door was closed but every once in a while, I saw shadows of little feet under the door and knew it was one of my girls, listening for a baby or wanting to know their mommy was ok. I quickly reassured them, sent them back to the living room and went back to work. I continued to pray with each contraction, as I have with my other births … God has always been there with me as my babes entered this world. I depended on Him more than anyone else so this precious birth should be no different.
I went back and forth between the pool in the bedroom and the tub in the bathroom for the better part of the last hour. I couldn’t seem to get my bearings in the pool because I had nothing solid and sturdy to hold onto while I pushed, so again and again, I walked down the hall, into the bathroom and tried pushing in there. I didn’t want to give birth in our tiny bathroom, mostly because my family couldn’t fit in there with me and in my heart, I wanted them present for our birth. I did fantasize about it a few times … a solo birth in the bathroom … but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted for this birth … I wanted a family birth so back down the hall I went … to the pool in my bedroom. I grunted and groaned and pushed. A few times I felt like I needed to relax through the contraction, instead of push, so I just held the side of the pool and let my belly float under me … afterward, the next contractions brought a more intense pushing urge. I was alone, although Jeff was sleeping on the bed, and able to do exactly what felt right at the time.
At one point during an intense contraction just before 5pm, I flashed on something that later made me laugh out loud. I wondered if the baby was not moving down into the birth canal because my pelvis was too small. I wondered if I was one of those rare cases that actually had a tiny pelvis that would prohibit vaginal birth. Thankfully, God quickly reminded me that I’ve given birth three times before and this baby would absolutely fit through my pelvis! The Lord was, without a doubt, with me that afternoon. I could have flashed on any negative scenario just before birth … baby being tangled in the cord is one thing that I believe would have caused true fear, but never, in my ‘right’ mind would I have considered a small pelvis becoming an issue at my birth! CPD was irrational as aliens invading our home during my birth! It later felt as though I needed to overcome that one absurd fear and be reminded by The Lord that I absolutely could push the baby out. I’ve heard of women thinking and saying crazy and outrageous things while in transition. I suppose that was my crazy thought!
Jeff woke up around 5pm, and seemed to be pretty relaxed until I told him to get the kids. He quickly realized what that meant, and yelled for the kids to join us. He carried a sleeping Sara into the room and got him and the children situated around the pool. Everything flowed from that point and feels like a dream to me. The baby was moving down into the birth canal. I cannot describe that feeling. I had no control and simply surrendered. The baby’s head was crowning before I realized … I barely felt the ring of fire and by the time I felt a little sting, I tried to add counter pressure but his head was born quickly. Jeff said, “You tore” when he saw blood in the water. It was the same time the head was born. I didn’t care if I tore at that point. I felt right and was more determined than ever to push that baby out. Nothing mattered more than meeting Winky. I could feel his tiny nose and lips under the water while his body was still inside me.
I felt under the water, touching his ears and nose and hair. It was the wildest feeling … he was kicking inside me, but his head was outside of my body. I remember saying; “I feel bumps … a nose and ears” it was incredible! He came shooting out into the water with the next contraction, swimming like a fish! I scooped him out of the water where he instantly wailed and pinked up. I lay back on the side of the pool feeling relieved and awestruck. Jeff bawled his eyes out and the kids looked on in amazement. It was approximately 5:05pm. Jeff asked through his tears, “What do we have?” So I turned the baby and lifted his legs … “A BOY!” We said in unison. We were so excited. Dylan latched on and started nursing right away. Jeff made sure to give me plenty of warm towels, while Christopher grabbed the video camera and started filming … and the girls circled the pool and watched in wonder, singing and talking to Dylan. It was the most beautiful, remarkable feeling in the world.
I remember being amazed at all of the creamy vernix floating in the pool, and coating Dylan’s back. I had never seen it that way before, with my previous births. It was awesome to experience each and every part of the birth with my family, with nobody distracting me for there own purposes. We were at peace, there in our bedroom … cuddling in the fishy pool.
I was getting uncomfortable and water was starting to get cold, so Jeff helped us out of the pool and onto the bed. Jeff and Christopher started cleaning up and left the girls and I in the bedroom with our new baby boy. I was having a lot of pain just before the placenta came, with back to back contractions. It was worse than labor. I desperately wanted to cuddle the baby but couldn’t because the contractions were taking all of my attention. I didn’t want to rush the placenta. I wouldn’t push my belly or tug the cord, as they often do in the hospital. I just knew I needed to get the placenta out because it was causing such awful pain and keeping me from enjoying my sweet boy. As I had throughout my pregnancy and birth, I trusted and followed my God-given instincts. I felt like I may be losing a lot of blood but didn’t know for sure. I took some plain cayenne pepper capsules, drank a lot of water and then focused on getting that placenta out. I put the baby on the bed, letting my four-year-old daughter Sara sing to him while I focused on birthing the placenta. Dylan was crying and stopped as soon as Sara started singing to him. It was adorable!
My six-year-old daughter, Kaylie got me the bowl. I tried to sit up to birth the placenta into the bowl but couldn’t get myself upright on the bed. I remembered reading that you can get the placenta to detach if you blow into a coke bottle or something. I didn’t have a coke bottle so I used my cupped hand. I lay there on the chux pad, trying nipple stimulation, and cupped my hand while blowing into it as if it were a bottle. I did not know whether the placenta had already detached … it just felt like the right thing to do at the time. I needed this final stage of birth to be over, so I tried it. Seconds later, I passed a blood clot the size of a lemon. … Kaylie assumed that it was the placenta and told me it was out. I felt it and knew that was not the afterbirth. I was still having contractions, one on top of the next. I wanted this to end! FINALLY, about an hour after the birth, all in one piece, the placenta came out onto the chux pad … it seemed huge. Hooray! I was finally able to snuggle and relax with Dylan.
He was naked, cord still attached to his belly, and the placenta was in the bowl on the bed. I wrapped him in a few towels and we stayed there for a while … getting to know each other and nursing. The girls never left my side and Jeff and Christopher focused on draining the pool and cleaning up the room. Jeff tied and cut Dylan’s cord, which had long since stopped pulsating. This was the first of our babies’ cords to be cut by Daddy.
Eventually Dylan and I got into the bathtub because he passed meconium, which was all over me, the sheets, towels and his legs. So we got a quick bath and went and settled into the bed for the night. Kaylie helped me put Dylan on the baby scale … he kept wiggling so it read between 10 lbs and 10lbs 2 ounces … we stuck with the even 10lbs for simplicity. A big, healthy, beautiful baby boy!!!
Jeff picked up take-out dinner for the family, which I was not interested in. I was thirsty so he brought me a huge bowl of watermelon and some of my pregnancy tea on ice. He was so nurturing, as were the children. The entire family snuggled in the king size bed and enjoyed getting to know our new baby. I was so content and overcome with love for my new son, and extremely proud of my family. I had not allowed myself to really hope for a boy and forgot how much I enjoyed having a baby son in my arms. What a special gift God has given me. Dylan’s birth was the absolute best experience in the world. He was only seen and touched by the people who loved him most in the world that night … he was never examined by strangers or stuck with needles. Sterile gloves never touched his sweet body … there were only warm, loving hands to hold and touch him and welcome him into our family. It was exactly as it should be, and exactly how I had dreamed it would be.
Jeff handled things wonderfully, protected us from the telephone and visitors all weekend. He was very proud of our children and me. He was so happy to have a new son. The children were awesome … all helping and doing their part and giving me privacy when necessary. Kaylie was a little midwife, helping me birth the placenta and rinse off in the tub, later. Sara protected and sang to her new brother. Christopher held my hand and kept me company in labor while his father rested on the bed; he kept an eye on the girls during the last hour of my labor and then helped Jeff drain the pool and clean up after the birth. Everyone helped and pitched in and played an integral part in the birth experience. It was the best family birth I could have hoped for.