I am writing this story as you slumber in our family bed with Dad. You are 9 ½ months. I need to write this. Each night as we lay down to sleep I think about your birth in my head & I feel it in my heart. Tonight I am writing this, for you, for me.
So I will begin this with how grateful we were to find out we were finally pregnant! We had been wanting this for 4 ½ years, little did we know it was only the beginning or just how much our hearts could swell with love & joy. I knew that I had wanted a homebirth since I was in high school. I had read an article in Seventeen magazine about Cindy Crawford’s. That’s what I wanted for you. I was inspired then, it sounds ignorant, but I didn’t even know it was a possibility, wasn’t it scary, risky? That’s the society that we live in. I knew no one who had a home birth & aside from my Grandparents anyone who was born at home. I do now, I know plenty. I called the midwife that our family doctor had given me a number for, the same midwife who had attended his baby’s births. We would later learn that she is undoubtedly the best & so very perfect for us. So I called her in the parking lot of my massage school during the first weeks of our pregnancy & chatted for a few minutes. She asked did I know anyone whose birth she attended & did I know anyone who had a homebirth. I did not. She said let’s make an appointment to meet, bring a food journal for three days & the only requisite was that I was to be fearless. I said ok & from there on out I was, completely. I cried tears of joy after I got off the phone, this was happening. We met & fell in admirable love with Pat & felt so very secure with her as our guide to bring our child peacefully into the world. Our pregnancy progressed perfectly uneventful. The only intervention we used was to do a blood panel on me, because we had a high likelihood of moving to Florida before our birth & Pat thought it good to have that to take to another midwife part way through. We did not move. We had no ultrasound, no tests aside peeing on a sugar/protein stick each month, no medications, no fetal monitoring other than experienced hands on my belly and listening with a manual feta scope. We met once a month at Pat’s studio and near our edd twice at our home. I felt wonderful pregnant, not one day was I sick, I did get to enjoy afternoon naps as much as I could outside of school & part time work. I walked, stretched, used essential oils on my growing body, did 2 lb arm exercises, did daily cat/cows, down dogs, & supported backbends over our balance ball. I drank Himalayan salt water. We bought a slant board and I laid on it daily. The first time I felt the baby move I was lying on the slant board & it completely took my breath away, she felt like a little fish! I looked forward to and loved each movement that would follow in my great big belly. The hiccups baby would experience were a little disconcerting to me as a first timer, but I learned to relax with them too. I went to two of my yoga classes & decided to take a break from it aside from what I was practicing on my own at home. My belly grew, boy did it grow. I knew I was having a girl, I had seen her a short time prior to becoming pregnant. She came to me while I was in between sleep & wake, I knew just who she was. I told David when he got home from work that day that I had seen our daughter. Through our pregnancy I saw an acupuncturist who read my pulses and confirmed what I already knew. David traveled quite a bit for work during our pregnancy, he was in Texas or Florida for about a third of it. My body did some early work with Braxton Hicks contractions starting around 7 months. I learned to soothe them with warm Epsom salt baths, herbs, and remedies. One of my sisters in law came to stay the night with me during continued BH contractions while David was out of town. I spent much of the night in bed & the bath. I continued to drink my herbal teas, crawl on hands & knees, which was ideal for creating very clean floors I rolled instead of sitting up in bed, visualized birth, read about birth, & did no abdominal work. We needed stretchy space for baby to turn when she needed. I gained 65 pounds. I ordered, gathered, & organized our birth supplies. We borrowed Pat’s birth pool & bought a liner. I prepped our bath herbs, tinctures, & remedies. As our edd of Valentine’s Day approached and passed I did not grow anxious, I was so calm and very at peace. I did grow tired of being checked on by seemingly everyone we know ;) I guess that will happen in an age of texting when you are 9 days past your edd. Folks care though & were sharing in our excitement. I woke often during the night to pee & get comfortable, one hip or the other was aching. During our last home visit Pat had taught us some tissue stretching technique to prep if we wanted to, we wanted to, but never did. During that visit we learned that the baby was as far down in the birth canal as possible & in perfect position. Most of our pregnancy the baby was breech. Once baby turned, she was posterior. We asked baby to adjust to anterior, a few days later she did, she was preparing. Shortly before David was home from work on a Wednesday in February while I was cleaning our Maggie cat’s litter box I felt some wetness on my legs. I was wearing gauchos with no underwear how Pat encouraged. Was I peeing a little? Did I pee a little & then since I wasn’t wearing underwear not be able to stop? Was I leaking?!? I was. Pat had told me to possibly not expect a gush of fluid as baby’s head was basically a cork. I was never checked for dilation or thinning until well into labor after Pat asked if I wanted it at which point I was fully. I suspect I was dilated for a while before birth. I was still always comfortable, but ‘felt like baby’s head is so right there’. I cleaned up and changed clothes. David came home and I told him what I thought was happening. He was happy. We ate dinner; gosh I wish I remember what we had now, I think it involved kale salad. I sat at the table and hand stitched a label on a quilt that a dear friend had made us, the label had come in the mail that day. I got 3 of the 4 sides done & couldn’t sit still. Dave turned the fireplace on and started to get the pool ready. I used the bathroom a few times, my body was getting ready. We posted our do not disturb sign on the front door. David had called Pat to fill her in, she told us to call when we had progressed to a certain point. David helped me out of my clothes & I would continue to labor naked & give birth wearing hiking socks 25 ½ hours later. We progressed. I labored first by our fireplace in the lower level of our home sitting & swaying on an old wooden desk chair, my childhood desk chair, with Maggie lying by my feet. Then on our balance ball & walking around, I did a lot of walking. I got in the pool, Pat arrived, we progressed. The warm water felt so nice, my muscles relaxed as much as I could let them, I felt lighter. Opening was so very intense. I relaxed as much as I could. Our second midwife, Linda, arrived. Hours passed, I was done with the pool. I walked some more. We all chatted, I was in and out of paying attention to what was going on around me. I remember saying how it sounded dumb, but it didn’t feel like there was a baby. Pat chuckled & said isn’t it funny. At least I knew I wasn’t the first to feel that way. I needed to meet you. I was unaware, but David was texting my Mom to keep up on what we were doing. She came and delivered food supplies to the porch. Linda napped and snored softly on the slant board in front of the fire. I was with three people who believed in the natural process of birth as I was bringing my baby into the world. They believed in me. They all busied themselves with prepping, eating, and taking care of me. I imagined myself among all the other mothers laboring to bring their children into the world that night too. I imagined the strength of the wild animals doing the same out in the cold mountains somewhere. I thought of the millions of women who had done this before me. Twelve hours had passed. The sun had set & risen. I felt the need to push so I did. They explained to me how to let go where & to push where. I pushed & pushed. Pat monitored baby’s heart rate, through the 12 HOURS of pushing Alice’s heart rate would never waver from 120 bpm. She is a rockstar. We were realizing this was not going to be one of the estatic/orgasmic births I had read & watched movies about, haha, it was not. Nor was it going to be a 3 push birth. They wondered if David was hindering progress somehow. He went upstairs to rest & eat. He was not hindering progress. I wanted him by my side. I should try and pee, I surely had a full bladder. I did not want to sit on the toilet, no way. Linda said can you pee in the shower. Yes I can. I couldn’t, I labored in the hot shower for a bit. Pat checked in on me & asked if any part of me wanted to go to the hospital. I said no, no part of me did, no part of me was scared or unsure, not even a cell. I was doing this. Why was it taking so long? I lay on my bed; they gave me a catheter & emptied my bladder. We went back down stairs, I continued to push. I wanted to cry. Linda wisely said this is not the time to cry, we can do that after the baby is here.Contractions came consistently each minute & then they slowed & then they came back at a minute. I said ‘I don’t know how much longer I can do this’ I didn’t feel that, it just came out. I also expressed how I was amazed that women have more than one baby. I was assured they felt the same way in their first labors, yet they each have 3 babies. I asked Pat if I could have a Kevita, she said sure, do anything you want. It brought me my second wind. I walked & pushed. We tried many many positions, they brought in a birth stool. Pat supported me in a full squat, we were making slow progress. I wanted another Kevita. David’s sister brought us Kevita & chocolate. Dave took over supporting my squats each minute. I was encouraged to find my primal voice & use it. I found it as best as I could. I grunted & growled with each coming contraction. We doubled & tripled up pushes with each powerful wave of my uterus. We continued to make slow progress. I could feel my baby’s head! It was so so soft & full of the softest hair. Oh my, our baby was coming. We made the turn past my pubic bone. Her head was born. I got on my hands, one knee, and a foot. She was a compound presentation. Her hand was on her face. She was not an 8 pound baby. I waited for a seemingly long time for the next contraction, it came, I puuuuushed, Pat wrestled Alice out into the world. It was 7:14 pm, our baby was earthside. The world had just become a better place. Huge snowflakes fell. She shares her Grandmother’s birthday. Pat laid her on a towel, I sat, and scooped her up & kissed her. We had our daughter. David sat back on the sofa & breathed a sigh & a tear. We did it, he is my rock. I cradled this sweet sweet girl who gazed up at her mother. She was big & pink & healthy from fingertips to her toes. She was bright eyed & alert from her first breath. She is absolutely amazing. Our daughter was greeted by the two pair of longing eyes of her parents & two pair of knowing, skillful mother’s eyes. It was perfect, all of it. Linda took our photo, thank you Linda, I so cherish this. We climbed onto the sofa and I cradled my daughter who latched on and we shared our first of many nurses. Our cord continued to pulse. I felt it. When it was done, David cut our cord & it was tied with fabric tape. I enjoyed the ONE piece of chocolate that was saved for me, it was white with raspberry center. I drank a smoothie they had prepared for me & took herbs & algae. The next afternoon David and I named our daughter Alice Hope. We would measure her length in a few days at 22 inches. Pat placed Alice in her spring scale. She was so long, she used another blanket. She weighed 11 pounds 3 ounces! I laughed, we did it. I said ‘we did it’ Linda replied, there’s one more stage of labor yet, but there’s no bones involved, we all laughed. David held his daughter, I sat on a bowl & gave birth to a very very huge blood clot. I asked was that it? It was not. Pat encouraged our cord a little, our beautiful placenta was born. I needed no stitches. We did it, we worked hard for over a day, my daughter is so very strong. I was helped up to our bath, Alice & I shared our first herbal soak together. We all adored Alice. I would choose this again, a million times over. I remember with fondness how days later I was still too weak to stand & shower alone. Your Daddy & I showered & he washed me & my new strange deflated belly. I remember how severely sore I was for weeks & then how less sore I was for months, in a heartbeat I would choose it again. We got out of the tub, diapered & dressed Alice & were helped into bed. Pat & Linda tidied up everything, cleaned, & did the laundry. Linda took our placenta & left to attend their next birth. A boy would be born 7 hours after Alice, who we would serendipitously meet in the coming months. Our placenta was dried & returned a few days later. Pat checked on us and headed to the next birth as well. Alice was here, Alice is here. It was the best day of my life. I brought my daughter into the world in the comfort of our home with her Dad. I will never be the same & I am grateful. I am empowered. We all slept, the three of us, in our room, for 10 hours.
Thank you Alice. Thank you for choosing us. Thank you for trusting me. My body is so strong. I have overflowed with gratitude for the unwavering support of your Dad. It feels good to trust birth. I am so proud. This is for you. These are my heartfelt words, they fall short of expressing just how truly amazing birth is. Always know how strong & deeply loved you are. You are a beautiful perfect force of nature.
Alice Hope Deller, born at her home in Ypsilanti, Michigan
February 23rd, 2012, 7:14pm
11 pounds, 3 ounces, 22 inches