Merrybellies Belly Arts
Birth Story of
Helice Anemone Babb-Cheshul
Born at Home
October 3, 2001
After waiting seven years to conceive our second child, I must have been enjoying the pregnancy too much. In the eighth month, I continued to tell the baby to stay in the womb longer, do not hurry to be born! At the same time, I expected her to come early, as her sister had, and prepared the nest accordingly. Her due date was September 20. In early September, a stopwatch became my constant accessory. I had experienced intense Braxton-Hicks contractions since the beginning of the third trimester; now I timed them obsessively. I had irregular contractions constantly in September. One evening the contractions were regular enough to influence me to call one of my midwives. She suggested a bath and a glass of red wine, which put me to sleep. I was amazed and slightly embarrassed that I could not recognize labor, since I had experienced it before. I expected everything to be recognizable, but was constantly reminded during the pregnancy and labor that no two procreative experiences are alike!
September 20th passed. My medical back-up (the midwives at the university I attend) scheduled an ultrasound and a non-stress test to make sure all was well. My homebirth midwives had told me at the first visit that they could not attend the birth if I passed two weeks overdue. I had assured them that I would not go overdue; I could not imagine that happening! The birth of my first child had been quick and early. We had barely made it to the hospital. Three pushes and she was out. But that is another story altogether!
One of my midwives went out of town during the week of my due date. I felt angry and betrayed. I became angry at my other midwife, too, when I felt that she was pressuring me to have the baby at a time when she did not have a shift at the hospital where she also worked. I contemplated doing an unassisted birth, or even going to the hospital. After much crying and discussion about the issue with my husband, I felt better. The anger passed. I had no idea before those two long weeks that going overdue could be so stressful. My husband had taken time off work the day before my due date. My mother had come from Georgia to see the baby. Friends were calling nearly every day to check on me. I felt as if everyone was waiting on me, watching and expecting. I did not appreciate their concern; I wanted them all to leave me alone!
Fortunately, the non-stress test and the ultrasound revealed no problems. I felt great pressure to have the baby soon. The homebirth midwives suggested castor oil and one of them reprimanded me for not taking the herbal pills they had prescribed a month earlier. I did not want to do anything unnatural. Labor was hard enough. I feared that interventions could complicate matters, interrupting the flow of the natural process. I walked some, took baths, and talked to the baby. I told her it was okay to come now. I told her I wanted to see her and hold her in my arms. I wanted her father to hold her too.
Still the baby did not come. The midwife returned from her conference. She called and told me she was glad that now she could attend the birth too. She offered to give me a massage, which I gladly accepted. I also had acupuncture and drank many mugs of Chinese herbal tea over the next three days, feeling desperate. Both the acupuncturist and the midwife gave me great therapeutic help! I knew that I needed to re-establish trust in my body. I had grown older and less confident in my physique. Finally, I just gave in. I stopped waiting and worrying. We went to a bookstore in town and spent nearly two hours looking at books. I walked (waddled, with that extra 44 pounds!) a lot. That night, I told my husband that he had gotten the baby in, now he had to get the baby out! We made love and went to bed.
I slept restlessly, as usual. I had contractions during the night that woke me, as usual. The harvest moon shone brightly in the sky outside our bedroom window. I gazed upon it when I awoke at nearly 6 am, feeling wide awake in the middle of an intense contraction. Not wanting to feel the disappointment of another "practice labor," I ran a bath. I kept my stopwatch nearby, checking the time with every contraction. They went quickly from four minutes to two minutes apart and became so intense that I was no longer able to time them. Unlike the innumerable pre-labor contractions, I was unable to think or do anything else while in the midst of these contractions. I finally got out of the tub, intending to wake my husband. First, I decided to prepare for the labor. I actually fixed my hair and lit a candle in the two minutes between contractions! Then I woke my husband and said "I think its finally time!" He got up immediately and called one of the midwives. I spoke with her, although I hardly remember the conversation. I told her yes I was having contractions, and they were close and I was having one right then…. Ohhhh!
My husband and I looked out the window at the full harvest moon. The sun was rising, but the moon was still visible in the sky. I paced, rocked, squatted, and spent much time on my hands and knees, which became my preferred position. When my midwife arrived thirty minutes later, I was in the bathroom on my hands and knees with my sweet husband rubbing my back as I moaned (ohhhhh, ohhhhh, ohhhhh, ohhhhh) through a contraction. We moved into the bedroom where my midwife checked my dilation. 8 ½ centimeters! I was further along than I had thought. Soon the other midwife, their assistant, and a friend of ours arrived. My wonderful husband and our sweet friend held my hands, one on each side, telling me that I was beautiful, they loved me, I was doing great, etc. I really appreciated their support. My mother and my other child were awakened, but did not yet come into the room. I spent most of the time on my knees, leaning on the bed with my head on a pillow. I tried standing, leaning on my husband, at a midwife’s suggestion, but did not like that! My legs shook, exhausted from spending two hours on my knees.
Three hours after I had gotten out of bed, I was ready to push. I did not feel the physical urge to push, but wanted urgently to get the baby out in order to end the seemingly infinite contractions! I expected the pushing stage to be brief, as it had been with my first child (three pushes!). Instead, I pushed for nearly an hour. I felt quite impatient. When a midwife asked me if I needed anything, I said "yes, to get the baby out!" I moved onto the bed, with my feet on the floor and my back leaning against my husband. In this position, I pushed and pushed many times with each contraction. The baby’s head slowly descended. My daughter came in the room then, despite her earlier insistence that she did not want to be there during the birth. She was very excited. She hugged her father from the back while I leaned against him on the bed. I heard her telling me she loved me in a very sweet and slightly frightened voice. I panted out that I loved her too (which was hard to do at this stage!). I was having a hard time keeping my voice from rising to a higher pitch (owww instead of ohhhh). The midwives suggested that I lie further on the bed, with my husband and friend holding my feet (froggy position!), because the baby’s heartbeat slowed greatly with each contraction at this point. I pushed between contractions because I was concerned about the decelerations. In the hospital with my first birth, the midwives had told me that the decelerations warranted a c-section in the doctor’s opinion; he just did not have time to get there before I pushed the baby out!
I worked very hard to push the baby out, attempting to surrender to the process as my midwife suggested while also straining as hard as I could! Perhaps I should not have strained so hard… but I felt quite impatient at this point! Finally, her head was out. The atmosphere changed in the room; I could feel the excitement of everyone there. Then I heard someone say that the cord was around the baby’s neck. They said something about cutting it, and then one of the midwives reached over and pulled the cord loose. In my nervousness and exhilaration, I did not fear that anything bad would happen. I knew that the baby would be in my arms momentarily. I pushed the shoulders out, reached down, grabbed the baby, and had her on my stomach. She felt so warm and wet. What a wonderful relief! My older child asked if the baby was a boy or a girl. I told her to look and see. How thrilled (and surprised!) I was to have another girl! She was rosy, plump (8 lb. 2 oz), and vibrant! Our friend cut the cord, since neither my husband nor I were interested in doing it. I just wanted to look at our beautiful baby, marveling at her curly dark hair, her puffy eyes, her sweet little fists. She already had a blister on one hand from sucking it in the womb. I told her over and over that I loved her. I told my other daughter and my husband I loved them. I was so glad to be at home, with people I loved and trusted, holding the newest member of our family. I put her to my breast and answered my mother "Yes I would love something to eat, thank you!" I felt ecstatic: happy and in love!