Buckle up for some high quality baby spam! It’s been two and half months since my sweet little baby girl was born, and I’m finally turning my mind to the blog and sharing her story here. It’s a wonderful story; a juicy guts and glory no-details-spared type of tale. I had a home birth, which I’m well aware people are generally passionately either for or against–so before I dive into the juicy details I want to quickly say that I love natural childbirth and all that jazz, but I’m not someone who thinks it’s for everyone. I think birth is one of those incredibly personal decisions that each woman will know exactly what’s right for her, and I think that’s how it should be. The most important thing in child birth is to feel confident and safe in your surroundings and in your body, and for some women that’s in her home with a midwife but for others it’s in a hospital with and epidural. No judgment here about which was is the right way to do it. So here’s my experience as I wrote it a week post-partum, eat your heart out.
Well, I guess I’ll begin this story with the pregnancy as a whole. I had felt completely unready for another child for a long time, although I knew that I wanted one more. There was a time about 6 months before I conceived that we had decided that we would start trying but that time came and went and I still felt like the timing wasn’t right. And then all of the sudden I was ready! I felt flooded with peace about it finally being the right time and thankfully I got pregnant right away.
From the get-go though, everything was just so hard—more nausea than I’ve ever had before, more vomiting, I was in bed for a lot of the first trimester, and by in-bed I mean, WISHING I were dead, generally on the couch or guest room bed, sick and very low functioning and just generally a crappy mom. I survived off canned chili and Taco Bell bean burritos for weeks it seems. Then the rest was fairly typical except that I was consistently measuring about 5 centimeters large from about week 18 on. Lots of back pain. Oh one really special thing was how early I felt her! I started to feel movement around 8 or 9 weeks I think (can that be right?!) but for sure I started actually seeing her move—like little bumps outside my belly at 15 weeks. I was reading one night on the orange chair and I saw the little jolt of a kick. I couldn’t believe it so I yelled at Allan to come witness the phenomenon, and we both watched it happen several more times and then many more during the weeks to come. Amazing. She was definitely my most active baby, girlfriend was a total acrobat to the very end. I thought for sure I was having twins, as did Roxanna my midwife. Well, she thought that I was either farther along than I thought or having twins. I also thought she was going to be a boy. I didn’t actually realize that I thought that until the ultrasound when I was so surprised when it was a girl. It took me several weeks to re-adjust to the idea of a girl, I had had an idea of what our family would be considering that I was pretty sure this would be our last. Once I did adjust I was so excited for another girl and never looked back. Then shortly after Christmas Tiny had all her seizure drama which was terrifying and very emotional and derailing for me. I felt completely depleted and emotionally overwhelmed, and the thought of adding another baby to the mix seemed almost too much for me. What I didn’t realize is that that whole situation wouldn’t last long, and that things would get back to a normal more predictable flow (which they did), and it wasn’t too long before I was more peaceful again and excited for our new baby girl. I felt that this girly would be so important to Tiny and visa versa. There was one moment in particular I remember where Bub did something funny that just filled my mother-heart with joy and I had this very clear idea that this little daughter would bring with her an immeasurable amount of joy to our family just like each of my other children have. That we needed her so much and that we couldn’t even imagine how much happier and complete she would make our family.
So the last few weeks were just crappier than crappy, I was so huge, so uncomfortable, sleeping terribly, having tons of back pain; I had finally pulled my groin muscle like I have in all other pregnancies, and had been having all the constant massive contractions that characterize my entire third trimester every time. Fun stuff. I was both completely expecting to go til my due date because I always do, but at the same time somewhere inside I just couldn’t imagine making it that far. And I was huge! Measuring 45 centimeters at the largest measurement around 37 weeks. I was convinced I was gonna have a twelve pound baby.
So my due date finally arrived, and I was just pissed. Pissed to still be pregnant, pissed that nothing was happening, and that nature could be such a beast. I was pretty emotional and unpleasant all day. I emotionally recomposed myself the day after though, and mentally geared up for another week. For several days I had wanted Sopey (my younger sister who had moved in with us for the next couple months to help out) to rub my feet and do the pressure points on my feet that are supposed to induce labor (that’s what Aunt Eleanor had done on me the day I had Tiny). But for some reason we just hadn’t had time until the day after my due date. I had gone on a nice walk that afternoon with Mom and Sopey and El Jay, and then that night while Adam, Sopey, Elena and Allan were all visiting late that night (being happy together over the news of Petey’s engagement) Sopey finally worked my feet. It was crazy because baby girl was totally still and sleeping, but as soon as she started working my feet, she started to move and stretch and kick like CRAZY. It felt like Sopey was literally prodding HER the way she would directly react to the stimulus. I didn’t feel anything really different that night, but I did feel like that had done something.
When I woke up with my first contraction in the night (I had been waking up with 4 or 5 huge contractions every night for the last 3 weeks) I started to feel like it would be soon, because it was a doozy—I was moaning and swaying and Allan got up too to go to the bathroom and gave me some counter pressure on my back and commented on how big that one seemed. I said that it was probably the biggest middle-of-the-night contraction I’d had. Then there might have been 1 or 2 more through out the night that I woke up for, but again this wasn’t out of the ordinary so I didn’t think too much about it. Then at 5:30 I woke up with a huge contraction and I just knew that this was it. I often try to nail down how I can tell the difference between my pre labor contractions and the real-deal labor contractions, and I think it’s just cause they are shorter and clearer and have distinct beginnings and ends (my pre labor ones are slow coming on, last forever and slow to leave—they’re the worst), and I don’t know…they just feel different. Okay, so 5:30, I wake up with a contraction, and I just know—this is it. I woke Allan up, told him I was gonna have a baby today, and hop out of bed and start the water in the tub. I had maybe one more before I decided to call Roxanna. So that’s two contractions before I called. Hilarious, I know, but I just knew. I went upstairs and woke Sopey up, I think I said something like Hey! The pressure points worked, I’m in labor! And then I tidied up a bit in the living room and kitchen. By the time Roxanna called me back at 5:39 (she didn’t answer when I first called), I had had 4 or 5 really strong contractions. It was like BAM! You’re in labor! I was super pumped. I called my Mom and then lit a candle and turned on the heat lamp and my birthing music (I had made the best mix on Spotify which I LOVED listening to throughout labor).
As the water ran into the tub I felt so cozy and excited. This was my first home birth; I have had all my kids naturally, but never had a good set-up for a home birth. My first two were born in the hospital, and Tiny was born in a birthing suite, so I knew that once we bought a home of our own I was going to finally have a baby at home. I really do have the perfect set-up for a home birth, our bedroom has an ensuite bath, but the room is shaped like an L, so the bathroom is in the shorter side, and the tub in the corner. I sat on a stool near the tub and just breathed through a couple of contractions. Sopey came down and I started to moan a little and she was like, ooh, they must be getting more intense. I said something like, just cause I’m breathing through them doesn’t mean they’re not already super intense! I had several more, and was not being able to stand up through them, my legs were just shaking and weak; it was super intense almost from the very beginning. Roxanna arrived (at 6:00 I believe), and my mom called saying that she was gonna try and get a little more sleep (she had been working all night), and to call her in an hour unless things started to really happen before that. I was like….okay….but I’m thinking in my head, things are definitely gonna happen before that. Around then I decided to go upstairs to use the bathroom privately, and I made it there before next one hit. Then I was cursing my prudishness cause I found myself stranded up there—and that next contraction was a real bear. Luckily Sopey had thought of this and had followed me up and she helped me up and down the stairs, my legs were really feeling shaky.
Roxanna was busily getting things ready, and at this point I was starting to moan through my contractions. I still had no idea really what the pace of the labor would be or how long it would all take and I didn’t want to get in the tub too early. After listening to me moan through a contraction Sope suggested I hop in the tub, and I was like yeaaaaah. This was probably like 6:15, and right about then my 8 year old had woken up and came downstairs. She was excited and I remember her hanging near Allan who was seated nearby. I’m a little fuzzy on the time line, but soon after I got in Roxanna checked me and I was at a 9. I would say I was in there for maybe 15 minutes moaning through the contractions and I started to want to bear down. At this point Sopey was like, we’ve gotta call Mom back and tell her to get over here, which she did. I wanted to try and go to the bathroom again, but Roxanna was like you’re not going upstairs this time, you’ve got to stay here. I was like okay okay, right. Let’s get real folks. So I did my business successfully and got back in the tub. With each contraction I was feeling the urge to push and there was a moment when I was getting in a different position—on to my bum I think, being on the side wasn’t working for me—that I just kinda squealed a bit, or at least made a higher pitched noise, and I said out loud, ugh! Why do I sound like THAT!? And I made a mental note that I needed to get low and refocus, I felt for a moment I was letting the pain get away from me. That must have been transition, now that I think about it. I think right in that moment I may have said I can’t do this! I had actually been feeling dread knowing that pushing was coming so quickly, and when it was finally there I just closed my eyes and thought here we go. Roxanna told me later that right then I threw my fist in the air and said I ROCK!! Mom finally arrived right before then, and in the minutes right before, I was feeling the urge to push I kept on saying Ahh! Mom needs to get here! I really didn’t want her to miss it, and I was holding off really pushing until she did.
So now comes the part of the whole labor that I keep replaying in my mind—the part that was so dang amazing and so dang painful all at once. I’m a pretty chatty birther, and during all of my labors I stay very present and cheerful up until pushing. Pushing is the part that is incredibly surreal and that I have a hard time remembering specifics other than Holy Freaking Crap this hurts like a Hell. I don’t get mean or scream or anything, I grunt and moan, but it’s like this flash of pain and ultimate discomfort that is so indescribable that I even have a hard time articulating my thoughts around it. Pushing sucks. But this time will always stand out as all of that, but incredibly special as well. I was just starting to do my whole jungle-birthing-blast-through-the-pushing-just-try-to-get-it-over-with when Roxanna got up in my grill and said Miriam! Slow down! Hee Hee Hee…..modeling how I should breathe through the pushing rather than bearing down. I found this incredibly difficult and hard to get on top of the push because I couldn’t get a hard edge on it. That probably makes no sense, but I can’t think of how else to describe it. So I’m trying to ‘Hee Hee Hee’ through the push when Roxanna says Put your hand here, and puts my hand on my perineum where I could feel the baby’s head beginning to emerge. She directed me to keep it there, and for the first time ever I was pushing but my mind stayed completely present in the moment, in the physiology of what was happening, and exactly focused on my progress. It felt incredibly uncomfortable and was really difficult for me to keep my hand there, but Roxanna had directed me to keep it there and I guess I was just following orders. I felt as the baby’s head slowly squeezed out, and I actually felt my body stretch around her head. It was astounding. I pushed a little more and she crowned, but it wasn’t until a second later that I felt the relief of getting her head out completely—she kinda paused briefly right at her chin. But I could feel all this with my hands, and Roxanna was narrating to me exactly what was happening. Roxanna checked for the cord, and then baby girl rotated followed by one shoulder and then the other. With other babies it’s like you get the shoulders out the baby just slides out, but she sort of just eeked her way one little inch at a time, it was still quick, but just not that all-in-one-moment slide. Because I was still guiding her out with my hand Roxanna said deliver your baby! And I just pulled her out and up through the water. I had delivered her! I was so intensely focused on her delivery, I had never before experienced it in that way, it truly was mind blowing—so amazing and so intensely physical. She was born at 6:46, an hour and fifteen minutes from first contraction to birth. I think I was actively pushing for about 7 minutes.
She was covered in vernix and I was just squealing with delight and joy, I think I was saying My baby! She’s here! My baby! And then I started baby-talking and expressing how utterly beautiful she was. The cord was shockingly short! I couldn’t reach her to my chest, she only made it to my lower abdomen. Mom knelt down beside the tub and held me to her chest while I cradled Faye with both our heads bowed down and I just wept. I hate that word, but there’s no other word to use, I wept and laughed and it was a beautiful moment. Within a few minutes I started to feel the bearing down urge again with contractions and Roxanna helped deliver the placenta. I had never seen a placenta before! They always just whisked it away so I had told Roxanna beforehand that I wanted a good look at it. She let me really study it and I was so interested to see how beefy it is. At least mine was, it was no organ to mess around with. I would never say so myself, but my midwife did say that I knew how to make a formidable placenta. She said that it could have lasted another two weeks it was so large and healthy looking. Two more weeks, heaven forbid! My oldest was right there too, and was surprisingly fine with all the guts and glory. She had stayed and watched the whole thing and afterwards told me that you made it look easy! Not gonna lie, I loved hearing that—made me feel like a rockstar. Incidentally, that’s what Allan kept telling me the entire labor—you’re a rockstar, Babe!
After I delivered my placenta I was just holding her and kissing her and just soaring sky high in all the hormones and love and joy of having her in my arms, and the song “Diamonds” by JohnnySwim came on, and I mean…it was like just this gorgeous moment where time kinda stood still. I was singing to her and crying and Roxanna said something like, wow this song couldn’t be more perfect, could it? “We’re the fire from the sun, we’re the light when the day is done, we are the brave, the chosen ones, we’re the diamonds diamonds diamonds, rising up out the dust.” Go look it up right now on youtube, I just did and I cried all over again. Ahhhh! Best moment ever.
After that we got out of the tub and cleaned up and in bed, and I started to have crazy crazy painful after birth contractions that I wanted to just die—waaaaaaay worse than labor contractions—I can’t even say. Mom timed one at FIFTEEN bloody minutes long! They weighed baby girl (9 lbs 6 oz!!) and checked me, (no tearing!) and Eirene came over and made us the most delicious breakfast in the world of fat French toast with raspberries and bacon and OJ, and we all ate together and then after getting everything cleaned up and settled Roxanna left us and I’ve spent the days since in my bed in a mama-baby cacoon of love. I love newborns with all my heart and soul, and if I could just skip the whole pregnancy thing, I’d have six more probably. I just lap up every little coo and cuddle and she’s so soft and fuzzy with these plump little cheeks that just don’t quit. She smells like heaven and feels like velvet, and I want to stay here in this room with her for another month without moving. It was a beautiful experience, and the more I think about it, the more grateful I am that I had it.
So that’s it. It was definitely on my top 5 life experiences that I’ll treasure always. The last two and half months have been really good. Despite a really rough recovery as well as mastitis and thrush, things are finally in a groove and we’re enjoying all the wonders of a sweet newborn.
All these beautiful color photos were taken a few days post-partum by my amazing friend Alisha Stamper.
With all the three minutes of free time I have everyday, I’ve been working and planning on opening an online shop! I’ve thought about doing this many times over the years, but never had anything that I would want to make over and over again. I finally do! Before baby girl was born I made her a really beautiful bohemian baby blanket that I’m going to start selling, as well as some of my hand printed (from my hand carved stamps) art prints. I’m really excited for both, but everything is taking a long long time, because I have so little free time, and there’s a lot of work to do before I can open i.e. photography and branding and eventually a site redesign. So not exactly immanent, but definitely eminent!!