Kagome’s Birth Story (Perfection in Water)
by Kai Krysiun
I’d been having contractions, though irregular for the most part, for weeks. Some of them were painful & some of them were not. Lately they had been getting worse & I’d been feeling them in my back for the past few days. There were several days during the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy that I told my husband I thought “this was it” & many more days when I thought it, but kept it to myself (only to be glad I did).
I even thought my water broke when I was 38 weeks, but it turned out to be a false alarm. I’m glad that it happened, though, because I ended up going to the hospital to be checked out (to see whether my membranes actually had ruptured) & there I endured the most painful vaginal exam I think I’ve ever had. Not only did I have to suffer through the vaginal exam, but I was also hooked up to 3 monitors very tightly & made to wear a hospital gown for the visit. It was all quite uncomfortable. The nurse was pretty incompetent, too. In the middle of the dreadful speculum examination, the dr. asked the nurse for the swab & the nurse looked around frantically & said something about there not being one & rushed out of the room. Mortified & in pain, I was lying there with my legs in stirrups, on my back (a most uncomfortable position at 38 weeks) & the dr. & I were just kind of looking at each other like what an idiot this nurse must be…then the dr. noticed the very swab she needed in plain view on the nurse’s cart, but she couldn’t reach it & wasn’t allowed to touch it anyway. She asked my husband (thankfully he was there) to hand it to her & he did. She finished the exam before the nurse finally came back into the room with another swab. They let me know that it had been a false alarm, so I guess I just peed on myself (oops!) & then they told me I could go home.
Of course Gabriel (hubby) was disappointed because he wanted to have the baby then & there. He was in a rush for the baby to come, just like everyone else seemed to be. I, on the other hand, was so relieved that I would not have to have my baby in the hospital. That visit just reaffirmed my belief that there is nothing natural about giving birth in that kind of environment.
At this point in my pregnancy I had been receiving prenatal care regularly at the hospital, seeing various doctors because my usual dr. seemed to be overbooked when he wasn’t going on vacation or out of town for business. I ended up deciding that I liked another dr. better anyway, so that part ended up being a blessing in disguise. And unbeknownst to my hospital doctors, I had finally found a midwife in my state (AL), when I was 36 weeks along; however, she lived 2 hours away. My hubby & I had only met with her & her assistant once & I had reservations about allowing her to attend the birth. She had her own reservations about doing the birth, too. My reservations about her were because I didn’t know her & because she seemed to be too busy for me. She kept saying she was going to come out to the house to have another meeting with us & then rescheduling. Plus, on the night when I thought my water had broken she called me in the middle of the night (2am) to ask me if I was a smoker (something that I had clearly stated in my birth plan which she pretended to read right in front of me). I told her that I smoked a little (which I do, about 5 cigarettes a day) & she told me that her back-up midwife would be unwilling to work with a smoker. She left me feeling pretty stressed out that night. There I was, half-asleep, thinking my water had broken, & now with no idea who was going to attend my birth.
I began asking myself if I should go to the hospital or could it be possible to have the baby at home with no attendant? I really had only wanted the midwife there in case something went wrong & to cut the cord (which seemed like a big deal at the time). This was the first time I really considered having an unattended birth. I mentioned the UC to my husband the next day & to my surprise he was all for it. If it would save us the $1200 + gas money for the midwife & save me from the dreaded hospital birth, then it was a win-win situation. He had the confidence that we could handle it & that gave me confidence. I decided to look up UC on the internet & found the best website, UnassistedChildbirth.com. I was filled with hope & joy as I read page after page about UC & so many beautiful birth stories. I knew instantly that this birth was destined to be unattended & perfectly natural.
I sent an email to the midwife to let her know that I wouldn’t be requiring her services & thanking her for helping push me toward the path of UC by giving me hope for something other than a hospital birth. I already had all of the supplies I needed for the birth at this point. I had a birthing ball, a birthing pool, candles, music, scissors, shoelaces, towels, bottled water, & a very strong will.
My due date came & went & I decided that I was in no rush for the baby to come. I would wait patiently. I had almost no contractions on my due date (August 14, 2006), but the next morning I awoke at 4:17am & felt a strong contraction. I didn’t think too much of it & went back to bed. My husband’s alarm clock went off at 6:45 & we got up. He started getting ready for work & I told him that I had a feeling about this day being “the day” & for him not to go out of town. He acted very skeptical & said something about taking his own car instead of riding in the work truck, but I tried to make it clear that I did NOT want him going out of town at all & he agreed. I could tell that he did not think this was it yet & understandably so after all the false alarms & since I was so calm about the whole thing. I got on the computer that morning while my husband got ready & was contracting quite painfully every 3 minutes. I tried having a chat with a good friend of mine, but I soon realized that I couldn’t concentrate on the conversation, so I excused myself & got off the computer & headed to the bathroom. I sat in the bathroom & timed my contractions from 7:00am until 8:23am. They ranged from 2-4 minutes apart & grew increasingly painful. I stopped timing them when I realized that it would only prolong my labor (or at least seem to). I called my husband & told him to come home right away. He didn’t really believe I was in labor yet, so he told me to call him back in 20 minutes. I hesitantly agreed. I decided to take a bath to see if that would help with the pain. I was calm, but excited. After 20 minutes I called my husband back & told him to come home NOW. He still didn’t seem to believe I was in labor, but he agreed to come home.
When he got home I was still in the bathroom. He asked if he should start filling the birthing pool with warm water & I said yes. I stayed in the bathroom sitting on the toilet through my contractions while he took care of our 2-year-old daughter, Katana, & filled the pool. I had him bring me my birthing ball & I bounced on it through some of the contractions. Some of them I swayed through. Some of them I danced through. Some of them I sat on the toilet through. I smoked one cigarette. This was active labor. Once the pool was filled I got in & tried to relax. The water felt warm & it was calming. The room that the pool was in was totally darkened except for one candle I had lit. It was perfect.
The pains were very intense at this point. Nothing seemed to help. I kept thinking I might need to have a bowel movement, so I kept going back into the bathroom, sitting on the toilet & trying to push, but not to push hard enough to cause my cervix to swell. I had read enough birth stories to know that it could happen. I kept checking with my hand to see if I thought I felt fully dilated yet, but I wasn’t sure what fully dilated felt like. I know now that I was in transition at this point. I even had one contraction during which I was dry heaving from nausea due to pain. That may have been the worst contraction I had.
I was squatting in the pool & trying not to give in to the pain when I reached in to check myself again. I realized suddenly that I could feel my baby’s hair. It was amazing. I knew that it wouldn’t be much longer (thankfully!). I also felt something else, a swollen lip of cervix wrapped around the baby’s head. Part of me wasn’t sure whether I was fully dilated or not, but my instincts told me that I needed to push that tissue out of the way so that the baby’s head could come down. After several painfully unsuccessful attempts to push the lip of cervix away, I finally succeeded. Immediately I felt the baby’s head start to push its way down my birth canal. I knew that ready or not, here she came. I was unaware of contractions from this point on. I just pushed as hard as I could & felt the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life. As the baby’s head was at the opening of my vagina I felt the infamous “ring of fire” & didn’t know how I would survive this pain. I continuously pushed on my perineum to try to prevent any tearing. I tried to use my hands to open my vagina enough for the head to come out, but what it came down to was that I had to push as hard as I could against the pain. It burned, but at the same time it felt good. I pushed with all my might & her little head finally popped out. I felt instant relief. I lay back in the water & yelled my husband’s name. He said he was coming & showed up a minute later at the door. He asked what I needed & I managed to get out the word “light”. I knew that he needed to see what was happening. He turned the light on & saw that the baby’s head was out.
He rushed down to the floor, but remained as calm as he could be. He started telling me not to push & I promptly told him not to instruct me that way. He obliged. Then I told him that I was going to push out the rest of the baby & for him to help free her shoulders if necessary. I was in no pain at this point. I began pushing with all my strength. My eyes were closed & I heard Gabriel’s voice telling me that I was doing it & to keep pushing. It was so reassuring. I knew that all I had to do was keep pushing for a moment longer, so I did, & out came the baby into both mine & Gabriel’s waiting arms. I picked her up from the water & placed her on my chest. I instinctively sucked the mucous from her mouth & nose & spit it out. Gabriel gagged. Haha! I rubbed the baby’s back & she let out the tiniest little cry & I knew she was alright. Then I put her to my breast & she immediately began to suckle. It was beautiful.
I wrapped her in a towel, so she wouldn’t get cold & I held her to my breast in the water for about 10 or 15 minutes. Meanwhile Gabriel called his parents & mine to let them know the baby had been born. Katana came back to see what was going on in her bedroom (the birthing room) & saw me holding the baby. She calmly said “my baby sister, I like her, my favorite, I need to touch her, & I need to hold her” all in a matter of moments. Then she went back to the living room & went back to sleep.
I was still feeling a lot of pressure from the unborn placenta & was hoping it wouldn’t take too long to come out. I decided to go ahead & cut the cord to see if that might speed things up a bit. Gabriel helped me to get out of the pool which was completely surrounded by towels. I squatted down & laid the baby on a clean towel. I used 2 brand new black shoelaces to tie off the cord & then Gabriel cut it. Moments later I felt the urge to push & the placenta plopped out easily & I felt such relief! I looked at it & it seemed to be in tact. Gabriel couldn’t get it out of the room fast enough. He quickly grabbed up the towel that it had fallen onto & threw it out in the woods. Haha!
I took the baby & we got into a warm bath which Gabriel had run for us. I held her to my breast & let the warm water relax me. After a while I handed her to Gabriel so he could clean her up & put a gown & hat on her. I took a shower & cleaned myself up. I had him look to see if I had torn any & he said he didn’t think so. I later came to the same conclusion. I might have some minor tears, but nothing to worry about.
The baby was a girl, by the way. Her name is Kagome (Kuh-goh-may) Ren Krysiun. She weighed 6.4 lbs. & was 18 & ¾ inches long. She has brown hair & dark unidentifiably colored eyes. My hard labor (from the time I started timing contractions until the end) was 3.5 hours. Kagome was born at 10:27am in our home underwater in the birthing pool in her big sister’s room on August 15th, 2006.
Fortunately for me, I had a bottle of Tylox leftover from when I had dental surgery a while back & since that is the same medicine that the dr. gave me after I had Katana, I knew it was safe to take it.
3 days & 15 poopy diapers later & we’re all feeling well. We’re still breastfeeding & loving it.
This birth was a beautiful & joyful experience for me. I wish that every mom-to-be realized that they have the power within them to achieve this kind of birth. I will make it my goal to inform anyone who will listen that this is the way birth truly should be. Yes, I admit, the pain is quite painful! But, it’s worth it. It really is. I will have all the rest of my babies this way.