Well Rounded Birth Prep

Well Rounded Birth Prep

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Doula-ing my nephew's gorgeous home waterbirth!

I'm so excited. I unexpectedly was invited to attend/doula the birth of my newest nephew last night! This blog is my memory of the very first birth I have attended that was not my own. I got to serve as sister-in-law, auntie, doula, and birth photographer and videographer.

Candi gave me permission to publish this blog along with the photos. I consider this a huge gift!

For the record: Blogger was EXTREMELY difficult to use with inserting these photos. What it showed as a preview was NOT what was published, thus, the captions are all off. I didn't want to compose a slideshow; I wanted a photo essay from top to bottom. I don't know how to fix this without spending all day on it, so I'm going to ask you to use your deductive reasoning skills to match up cockeyed captions with the appropriate photos. Thank you for your patience!

Jon and Candi had a birth center birth with their first child in 2006. This time, they planned a homebirth with midwives Angy Nixon and Dorothy Kaeck. Yesterday was Candi's due date, believe it or not, and I got a text from Jon at 7:56 p.m. asking if I wouldn't mind coming to "sit with Candi through this early stuff." I already had my doula bag in the van, ready for the other three births I'm on call for. I grabbed Gatorade and ginger ale for Candi and Pepsi for Jon and left my house at 8:12 p.m. (Jon and Candi already had childcare arranged for their older son.)

I arrived at their house around 8:40, expecting Candi to be in chatty-friendly-early-labor. Nope. She was sitting on her birth ball, actively working through and breathing through each contraction. Jon was just beginning to get the birth pool inflated, which then had to be filled. That took all of his time and attention. I was so glad I arrived when I did, so that Candi didn't have to cope with contractions by herself.

I stayed by Candi's side, helping massage her legs, hands, and back while Jon continued to fill the birth pool with a clean, new hose from their kitchen sink as well as with stock pots and sauce pans of water heated on their stove. The midwives had been alerted several hours before that Candi was in early labor and that they would call them to give them a heads up when to arrive. Candi asked me to call Angy back at 8:51 p.m. to make sure she knew things were picking up. (Aren't cell phone call and text logs handy?)

I'm not sure how long it was until Angy and Dorothy arrived, but 30-45 minutes is my guess. It's just as likely that it was only 20 minutes but felt that long because I've never been someone's primary labor support before. I hoped I was doing it right. I encouraged her with soft words and a gentle touch to help distract her from the pain, telling her she's doing a wonderful job, she's doing this, and reminding her to keep her jaw loose (loose jaw=open cervix, clenched jaw=ineffective dilation and more pain) and her tones low.

I felt relieved when Angy and Dorothy arrived. Their presence is so calming and reassuring. They checked baby's heart tones with the Doppler (in a good range throughout her labor) and took Candi's temperature (no fever, which they monitor in case of infection). They took Candi's blood pressure and pulse. Everything looked great and she was doing a stellar job coping with the intensity of the contractions.

A little while after that, Candi warned me that she felt like throwing up. I neglected to mention that I am phobic of vomit. I'm trying really hard not to let my phobia rule/ruin my life. You may see some humor in the fact that an emetophobe would have 4 kids. I may see humor in that, too, someday. I try to remember Psalm 56:3 (What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.). I'm getting better about it, but I won't hold a puke bucket for my own kids, so there's no way I can do that for a laboring mom at this point. This is a pretty good indicator that I'm not ready to be a doula-for-hire yet, considering that Angy told me that about 75% of laboring women vomit in labor (especially as they approach transition).

At any rate, I hid in their bedroom for a while to give Candi a minute. Angy, Dorothy, and Jon were all three there for her, so it's not as though I left her all alone. I got her toothbrush ready for her and some cold washcloths for her face and forehead and waited for the all-clear sign to re-enter the living room. I didn't do too bad (I think). I didn't run out the door and drive off, never to return. That's good, right?

Left: Dorothy and Angy getting warm water for the birth pool. Right: Angy listens to baby's heart tones with the Doppler while Candi copes beautifully through a contraction.

The time frame is blurry after this. The next few hours consisted of Candi on and off the birth ball, changing positions, and waiting for the birth pool to HURRY UP AND FILL. She asked for an internal exam--was it 10:00 or so?--and was at 7 cm. Hurray! Progress! Candi kept asking if this was ever going to end. I whispered to her that she's making great progress and that her son was moving down, that he was almost in her arms now. Candi said that it was moving too fast because of the intensity of the contractions, and I told her that she could have her son in bed nursing with her by her normal bedtime. (I was right, by the way.)

After her exam, Candi wanted to lie in bed with Jon for a bit to rest and regroup. Meanwhile, her water broke on its own (over a chux pad; cleanup was no issue), and Candi was ready to get into the birth pool. I noticed that Candi was getting the shakes, too, and reminded her that her water breaking and the shakes were signs of progress and what a fabulous job she was doing.

Candi seemed to feel relief from getting in the water. Many women report that being in a pool or tub cuts the pain and intensity of the contractions. By the time Candi was in transition, the contractions were necessarily intense, and she seemed pretty uncomfortable regardless of position changes, but I guess that's to be expected. We massaged her hands and back. Dorothy applied counterpressure to Candi's lower back. It wouldn't be long now. That's the great thing about transition. Yes, it's the most difficult part of labor, but it's also the shortest.

That's midwife Angy on the left, a quiet guardian of safety.

That's me by Candi's side.

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Candi's mother and her best friend each had more than a 3 hour drive to get there, and both arrived in time for the birth! Candi's friend arrived maybe 30 minutes before baby's arrival, and her mom got there literally 30 seconds after Candi said, "I think I have to push."

Candi did such an awesome job bringing her son down slowly and gently, allowing time for her to stretch and remain intact. I helped her continue to breathe through these contractions too, reminding her that when she takes good deep breaths, she's giving oxygen to her baby. She followed her body's cues for pushing. Nobody had to tell her what to do or how to push or when. She just did what she needed to do!

How perfect is this moment that was captured???

Baby's cord was wrapped around his neck twice, but that's not a problem. It occurs in about 30% of births. Midwife Angy checked for nuchal cord after his head was delivered, felt it, then slipped the first loop of it gently over his head. The second loop had plenty of slack and didn't pose any danger, and was unwound after the birth. His cord was looooong.

What a gorgeous, peaceful waterbirth. I'm tearing up looking at these photos again.

*This* was what she had been waiting for, the culmination of hours--no, months--of work. In her difficult moments in labor, Candi asked us, "When will it ever end?" and Angy and I reassured her that every contraction was one contraction closer to holding her son. This is it!

I think this is around the time I asked Candi how she feels. "Like a million bucks!" she replied.

Here I am, Auntie Sarah, holding my newest nephew. Welcome to the world, Little Man! We love you!

Far left: Midwives Dorothy and Angy are inspecting Candi's placenta in a WVU serving bowl. It was intact and looked very healthy.

Near left: Midwife Angy weighs baby. 7 lb 14 oz after he already pooped once!

Far left: Admiring sweet baby. Dorothy has olive oil ready for wiping baby's bum to make meconium cleanup easier.

Near left: Proud mommy is on Cloud 9. She's ready to nurse sweet baby in her own cozy bed.

<3 <3 <3
Baby Love
<3 <3 <3

Mommy holds baby's precious, teensy feet. *sigh* Bliss.

I left Jon and Candi to enjoy their babymoon around 1:10 a.m., got home around 1:35 or 1:40, and couldn't sleep a wink all night! I was exhausted but on an endorphin high from the pure joy and blessing.

And, oh yeah, did I mention that Angy let me sign their memento (footprint) birth certificate as the second witness? That HAS to give me some sort of "Best Aunt Ever" award. I'm so honored and thankful to have the privilege of being a part of this amazing birth. I'll never forget it! Thank you, Candi and Jon, and congratulations on your newest son!

Edited to add: Here is Candi's first-hand birth story.




  2. What a great birth story! It's always so exciting and moving to witness a birth that isn't your own.

  3. Beautiful Birth Story..so happy you got to be such a special part of it.

  4. FABULOUS story! AMAZING Photos! YOU are an inspiration to other doulas and cbe's. And you were brave enough to say vomit is not your friend, LOL!

  5. awww! beautiful! I'd love to try this with our next one, is there a midwives group i could contact to find a midwife that would do that in our area?

  6. Sherah, emphatically yes! The president of WV ICAN lives in Morgantown & had 3 midwives at her homebirth VBA3C. Her name is Teresa Stire; you can find her on my Facebook friends list. My SIL also just had a homebirth in Fairmont w/ Donna Spelman (Spellman?) who lives in Clarksburg.

  7. I am SO glad I found this! I just happened to have you on my blogroll somehow, maybe I found you through baby and bump? But I have been dreaming of a home/water birth forever and now we are having our first there is no way I want to be in a hospital. We are also in WV, so after reading this I realized it IS possible for us! Thank you SO SO much for the amazing birth story!

  8. Whitbit, thanks for stopping by! I'm so happy that you found the resources you needed to prep for the birth you want. I hope you get your dream birth. :-) I look forward to hearing more about your pregnancy and progress.


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