Leo's Home Birth Story (part two)
Continued from Leo's Home Birth Story (part one).
11:40PM on 2.22.22.
He was beautiful, absolutely perfect, but he was completely limp in my arms.
"Come on baby, let's hear a cry," Dawn pep-talked him. "Is it ok if I give him breaths, mama?" I immediately gave her consent and gently rubbed his little body as she gave him breaths of life... and we waited...
You'd think during these moments I would have been overwhelmed with fear and concern. Yet, as I held him I was somehow filled with such peace and faith that he would be alright. After Emily swiftly suctioned out his little nose and mouth, Dawn gave him more oxygen from the small tank she'd shown our daughter first thing that morning. She then encouraged him to cry with a flick on the bottom of his foot as I continued rubbed his little body. Finally he let out a lung-clearing cry. While the technical description of this experience may have been that he was stunned due to shoulder dystocia, I felt it simply took an extra moment for his body and soul to fully unite in this external human existence.
He stared up at me with eyes now open wide, and I glanced beside me to Adam in a moment of such love and gratitude for this incredible tiny human we'd brought into being. "Good job Mom," he told me with a quick grin as unbeknownst to me at the time, he was trying to keep himself vertical. With a gentle lift of our babes leg, I confirmed what my intuition already had me believing... Hallie had herself a little brother! He had such chunky and utterly kissable cheeks, the sweetest face, and a full head of dark hair. We were both bloodied from battle, but now in such a state of serenity.
"I did it. We did it." I grinned with pride and exhaustion. After having my daughter cut from my womb, I had birthed our baby at home, just as intended.
Dawn and Emily helped us get comfortable and we sunk into the cozy skin-to-skin time that I'd not been able to enjoy when Hallie was first born, as they brought me food and drink. After about an hour Dawn showed me that the umbilical cord had run white and was no longer transporting the last of the nutrient-filled blood to him. Hallie had excitedly claimed the job of cutting the cord several days prior. Despite Adam's gentle attempts to rouse her, she was sleeping soundly and couldn't be coaxed to open her eyes. I was amazed she'd slept through the entirety of my grunting, groaning, and roaring her brother into the world right across the hall from her.
I've found that so many birth stories end with the birth of the baby, but the birthing was not over yet! I had yet to birth the placenta. From what I had been able to read, it seemed the placenta either practically flopped out or was birthed with another small push shortly after the baby was born. This was not the case for me. I cut the cord, enabling Adam to hold his son for the first time as we carefully maneuvered to the bathroom toilet (with the sitz bath below me to catch the placenta). I tried to push but like the baby it supported, it was not coming out! Dawn said it needed to before the cervix began closing and gave me an herbal tincture to help the process. I gently but firmly pulled on what was left of the cord. Eventually it came out and I felt such relief... the birthing process was done! Emily helped me clean myself up and get all situated in those mesh disposable undies and my fluffy robe and I could finally settle fully into my comfortable bed. There was nothing quite like that feeling of being able to sink into the comforts of my own bed with our new baby on my chest. I sighed in deep satisfaction and closed my eyes briefly as he snoozed upon me.
"Are you ready to examine the placenta?" Dawn asked as they both brought this incredible organ into the room. "This part is so cool."
"First of all... your placenta is huge. This is a rather large placenta." She pointed out a few things to me before asking if I'd experienced any bleeding in early pregnancy. I could only recall a slight amount of what I believed to be implantation bleeding. She nodded her head and pointed to a little quarter sized spot on the placenta, showing me the tiniest embryo. My jaw dropped in disbelief. This pregnancy had begun with twins. My mind was then flooded with little intuitive moments that hinted at the discovery in front of us.
For example, Hallie had been unable to settle on whether she thought we were having a boy or girl until the end of pregnancy... often telling me we were having both. Our empathic and animal-loving neighbor girl asked me at least three different times, "Are you sure there aren't two in there? Are you sure you're not having twins?" Adam mentioned a friend's wife, who had never even met me, had a dream that we were having twins. My husband himself mentioned several times the possibility and I recalled going for a walk with a dear friend before having an ultrasound where I said, "I really just want to make sure there's only one in there!"
I pondered the diving timing of this journey. I didn't do an appointment early on, as is now conventional to do an ultrasound and confirm the pregnancy. I trusted my connection with my body and had yet to find the type of home birth care I knew I was seeking, making the first half a "wild pregnancy". I decided to go in for an ultrasound and anatomy scan around 22 weeks where we discovered all was well with our babe and the growth so far, and resisted finding out the sex of our little one. Had I gone in for an appointment around 8-12 weeks, I would have learned of this second embryo and experienced a roller coaster of emotion throughout pregnancy. It was meant to be just as it was. I felt no sense of loss or grief, only immense peace and gratitude.
Gratitude for this amazing little addition to our family, who was healthy and well.
Gratitude for my husband for trusting my decision and my mini-midwife Hallie, who now understands that birth and a woman's body are nothing to fear... they (and we) are powerful.
Gratitude for the empowering experience bringing him into the world, a process that would have looked much different had it not been a home birth.
Gratitude for my wise midwife Dawn and her wealth of knowledge and intuition in guiding this birth, and the kind support of her assistant Emily who helped me to keep the faith and feel taken care of.
Gratitude to my family and friends, who set aside any of their own doubts and concerns to support and encourage this journey
Gratitude for the women who've come before me, showing me that it is not only possible but a raw and beautiful experience.
Most of all, gratitude for the Divine force of light, creation, and LOVE.
As Dawn and Emily began baby's exam, I looked over to see our sweet girl grinning in the doorway. It was almost 2:00am, and she peeked around the corner with excitement in her eyes. "Would you like to come meet your new baby brother?" I asked her as she slowly inched toward us. She nodded and quickly came to my side.
"Ohhhhh, look at him! He's so cute! Look at his tiny wittle nooosse, and those teeny tiny wittle toes!" she softly exclaimed. Much to her delight she got to help weigh him to discover that he was just under 9 pounds, nearly a pound lighter than herself at birth. After snuggling in together for a bit, Adam got her settled back in bed as they did my exam. As suspected, I had a slight tear that would likely heal fine on its own without stitches and everything else was looking good! I was then given care reminders for him and myself both and was humorously told to "be a mermaid", an analogy reminding me to keep my knees together and enable the tear to heal well. Dawn and Emily departed after cleaning up, making sure we were all settled in for bed together, and giving "good work mama" and congratulatory hugs.
I gazed around as I held him and felt surrounded by spiritual presence. On this magical evening of 2/22/22, it felt as though every ancestor and angel we had was here to welcome him. Though I frequently receive awareness and messages through words, knowings, and feelings (clairaudience, claircognizance, and clairsentience- more on these soon!), I was seeing visuals. There were soft and fuzzy shadows and interesting patterns of light all around, reminding me how truly connected our loved ones are.
And so, with this awareness of being so very guided, supported, and watched over... we drifted off together, our baby finally in my arms.
Leo's home birth taught me so much about myself, women's health and wellness, our medical system, and societal norms. For a handful of those life-changing lessons (whether planning a home birth or not), enjoy reading 11 Things I Learned From my Home Birth & What They Could Mean for You.