Mali Rose’s Birth Day
© by Jeanne Sarfaty Glazer March 22, 2004
I knew from the moment I got pregnant that I did not want to have my baby through the Maternity Center I had used for my son Jacob, but it took my first two trimesters before I realized the right answer for me was NOT a different Maternity Center, but to give birth at home. So 7 months pregnant, we hired a midwife to attend our birth. She came very highly recommended from three different people (with completely different backgrounds) and has a superb reputation for being very “hands off.” During this time, I also started to resonate with the idea of giving birth unassisted.
I did not think I was in the “head space” I would need to have a successful planned UC (UC = unassisted childbirth) which is why we went with the midwife. However, the closer to BirthDay I got, the more driven I was to be physically, mentally and spiritually prepared to UC “just in case.” I knew I would want to labor on my own as long as possible, so I resolved not to call our midwife until/unless my intuition told me it was the right time to call. In keeping with this, I also decided that this birth was going to be free from some of the drama associated with the birth of my son (which I believe largely came from my fear of the birthing process combined with the expectations of those around me). I read and read and read books on Homebirth and UC. I surrounded myself with positive examples and committed myself to working on trusting the process, trusting my body and learning how to handle complications that could arise while giving birth and afterwards.
Sunday afternoon and evening. My husband Hillel and I decided it was finally time to clear out the room that is being used by our nanny, Sally. Her room was full of our clothes and Goodwill was scheduled to come Tuesday morning to pick them up. By nature, I can be slow to start projects, but once begun, I can’t stop. So in my cleaning frenzy, I joked that I could be nesting.
By about 6pm that evening, I acknowledged (to myself only) that I was having fairly steady if irregularly timed contractions/surges. They’d last 30-45 seconds with as little as 7 minutes and as much as 18 minutes between them. Based on my labor with Jacob, I thought we’d probably be meeting our new baby within a few days.
I decided to set up the AquaDoula (birthing tub). To my dismay, the set did not include a hose so we would have to either bring our garden hose inside, or wait until the morning when Hillel could get a clean one from Home Depot. Around 9pm, I told Hillel that I was having surges and that I did not want to wait until the morning to fill the birthing tub. So he dragged the hose in the house and we emptied our hot water tank into the tub. By the time we noticed there was no more hot water, we had actually pumped a good bit of cool water into the once hot tub. So I covered it to retain as much heat as possible and resolved to finish filling it in the morning.
That night when I lay down for bed, I could not get comfortable. My baby was posterior and even lying on my side was not working for me. So I got my birth ball (freshly inflated from my cleaning/prep work earlier that day) and spent the night in the bathroom – sometimes laboring on the toilet, sometimes laboring on the birth ball, and resting as much as I could between surges. I visualized my cervix opening effortlessly and concentrated on keeping my bottom loose and relaxed during my surges.
Around 4:30am, Hillel woke up and came to the bathroom. I told him my surges were averaging 5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. He asked me if I wanted to call the midwife. I told him, “not yet.” He then *looked* at me and asked if I wanted to have this baby by myself. For the first time, I admitted to him and myself – “yes, I do.” Then to put his (my?) mind at ease, I followed it with “but if my body tells me to call the midwife, then I will.” I felt like I really made peace between the part of me that wanted a UC and the part of me that wanted my midwife safety net. I gave myself permission to call the midwife in time to attend the birth if that’s what I needed. And I knew that it would be a beautiful birth no matter what. Shortly before sunrise, I built a chair of pillows in the bed and snoozed upright for a couple hours as the sun rose.
I had hoped if I didn’t give birth at night, that I would be able to get my 20 month old, Jacob, when he woke up and I was thankfully able to do so. I noticed that whenever I took my focus away from the birth process, things slowed down. Whether it was tending to my boy, or having a conversation with my husband, it was like my body received a message of “would you mind holding off for a few minutes while I take care of something?” Pretty neat. As soon as I sent Jacob downstairs with Hillel, things resumed their normal pace.
I decided to give our midwife a call to let her know what was going on. I told her to go ahead and keep her morning appointments and she said she’d call after her first to see how things were progressing. My spirits were great and I certainly did not sound like a woman in heavy labor. Around 8, I started adding hot water to the tub. Around 8:30 I decided that even though the tub was not yet full or warm enough, (it’s supposed to be between 98 and 100 degrees and it was just over 90) that I wanted get in (darned if after spending $150 to rent the thing I wasn’t going to at least *try* it!). I asked Hillel to put a big soup pot of water on the stove to boil to warm up the pool.
In the water, I was very comfortable between surges. My back had ached through most of this pregnancy and the buoyancy of the water was a blessing. Water or no water, surges still required concentration, but in the resting time between them…bliss! I told Hillel that I might try to nap a bit in the water since I had not slept much all night. My body had other ideas. Hillel had to bring me an empty trash can because suddenly I became nauseated and needed to throw up. Hello transition!
Not long after that, the midwife called wondering if she should come over. At first I said “no” and right after that, my body was hit with an super intense surge – the most intense yet! I changed my answer to “yes” at the same time the midwife (who I assume heard my vocalizations) said “I’m on my way.” Somewhere during this (neither Hillel nor I can remember if it was before or after the phone call) my water broke. I was so excited – I knew our baby would be here soon.
Hillel brought up a space heater and one of two pots of hot water he had boiled for the tub. I continued to have very strong intense opening contractions and I was vocalizing through them. He emptied the first pot of water into the tub, and the warm water felt like a slice of heaven. I told him that the water felt Sooooo good. Hillel went downstairs to get the second pot and during that short period of time, my body gave me such an urge to push I could not hold it back. By the time Hillel arrived with the second pot, our baby was crowning. I reached down between my legs and could feel hair (HAIR!!!) waving in the water. I was so excited. “I can feel hair!!” Another surge. “She’s coming!”
So much for the second pot of water – Hillel poured it down the sink and came to the side of the tub. I exclaimed “The head’s out!” At first because of my body’s position in the water, he couldn’t see, but when I turned, lo and behold, there was a head. I felt the baby turn inside me and another surge had me pushing out her torso. I reached down to get her and Hillel said “She’s not out yet, don’t pull her up – let her come out on her own.”
I could feel her kicking inside – an incredible, surreal feeling. One more push and out she swam into my hands. I pulled her up as far as her umbilical cord would allow to rest her on my chest. Bliss. I wept with joy. At some point I realized I was referring to the baby as “her” but I hadn’t even checked yet. So I looked and exclaimed “It’s a girl!”
I kept saying over and over “I’m so happy.” We watched to see her breathe. She was pretty snorty and fluid-filled so Hillel got the sucker and gently suctioned her nose and I got her mouth. I asked him to get the camera so we could have a few pictures and after a little time, I stepped out of the tub with help from Hillel (it’s quite a challenge to do this while holding a newborn who’s still attached at the umbilical cord!) and sat on the birthing stool to nurse her while we waited for the placenta to come.
I was bleeding quite a bit but still well within what’s considered “normal” – Hillel checked frequently to make sure it wasn’t excessive. Within a few minutes, it was clear that the bleeding had stopped. We decided to wait until our midwife arrived before cutting the cord since we didn’t have any scissors sterilized (and Hillel had dumped what boiled water we had down the drain!) so we got to enjoy a good half hour of alone time before she got there. One of the only bummers about waiting to cut the cord as long as we did is that Hillel didn’t get to hold Mali for close to an hour. Almost the exact reverse of Jacob’s birth where it was a good 40 minutes before he got held and nursed by me.
Anyway, the rest is fairly uneventful. The midwife arrived with big smiles and congratulations about a half hour after the birth. She shook her head said “Second time Moms….I knew you were gonna do this!” and we both laughed. She clamped the cord and Hillel cut it. We wrapped up Mali (who had already pooped all over her receiving blanket) and gave her to her Aba (Daddy) while I took a nice warm shower. I had one tear that I decided to get stitched since it wasn’t laying nicely but other than that, I felt great. We wiped Mali down with warm baby wipes to clean her of the poop and weighed her in a sling-scale. 8 pounds, 4 ounces. 20 1/4 inch long. We snuggled while the midwife took care of all the cleanup (worth every penny!).
A couple days later I’m amazed at how quickly my body’s returning to pre-pregnancy condition. For the last half of pregnancy, I had SERIOUSLY UGLY varicose veins and swelling. Two days later they’re almost all gone. With Jacob’s birth, my bottom side looked like a baboon or a mutant peach. I could not sit without pain. With this birth, the only swelling I have is around my tear and it’s minimal. I can sit and go about my daily stuff in relative comfort. My energy level is high – none of the worn out feelings I had with my first birth. Mali learned to nurse much more quickly and easily than Jacob did. I think it has something to do with being put to the breast right after birth. And speaking of nursing, while it could be that my body’s done this before and is just naturally responding more quickly, my milk’s started coming in on day 2 where it took several days longer with Jacob.
I should note that during the birth, our son was downstairs playing with the nanny. They could hear what was going on through the baby monitor we had set up for me so I could call down if I needed anything (like hot water – smile!). Jacob played contentedly the entire time. His only commentary was at Mali’s first cry when he looked up and said “baby!”
Welcome to the world Mali Rose!
- Born: March 22, 2004 9:17am
- Weight: 8 lbs 4 oz
- Height: 20 1/4 in
- Amount of love: Immeasurable