We welcomed our little boy, Nadir Aviv!
Born at home on October 1st, 2017 at 2:39am
7 pounds 9 ounces and 20.5 inches long
20 hours of labor, 20 minutes of pushing
Friday, September 29th...
I was a few days past 40 weeks and I woke up having somewhat strong contractions but they were very far apart and sporadic. I was wondering if my acupuncture treatment from the day before had worked to get things going. I went to my chiropractic appointment and relaxed for the rest of the day. That night I barely slept because the contractions kept happening randomly. By 5am I fell asleep and awoke again at 7am.
Saturday, September 30th...
I labored all day with contractions that had no clear pattern. Laying down made the contractions much harder to breath through so I tried to nap sitting up. My partner and I ate delicious food throughout the day and watched a couple movies. I would periodically waddle around the house or circle my hips on the birth ball while he rubbed my lower back.
By the evening I was getting frustrated because I didn't feel like anything was progressing. I spoke with my midwife on the phone and she suggested that I have a glass of wine and take a bath to see if it would either slow things down and allow me to rest or get things moving along. We didn't have any alcohol and we live on Treasure Island where they don't sell alcohol so my partner called one of our neighbors and told him that I'm in labor and we need to borrow a bottle of wine. The sun set, I had my glass of wine, and I got in the bath tub to see if anything would change. And boy did it!
The hot water allowed me to relax and breathe through each surge more easily. I felt Nadir shift in my belly and suddenly the contractions became stronger and consistent at 4 minutes apart. I couldn’t lay down anymore so I went to the shower. Very shortly they were coming every 2 minutes. I told my partner to call the midwife. She arrived some time around midnight and by then I was lost in the trance of birthing land.
After being in the shower for (my partner tells me) an hour, I moved to the bed. I was on hands and knees leaning over a stack of pillows. The candles, essentials oils, and rebozos became obsolete. I didn't want to be touched or talked to. I just needed to go within. Swaying and letting out deep, loud moans was all that could help me at this point. I started to hear that voice in my head tell me I’m done. But I’m committed to giving birth at home and I knew there was only one way through this. So I just focused on this moment and breathing through it. Though I was so disconnected from anything going on outside of me, I was intensely connected to what what happening inside. I felt so clear as my body transitioned through each phase of labor.
Gush goes the water!
Soon I turned over onto my back and I could hear the sounds coming out of my mouth shift into pushing sounds. I was bringing him down the birth canal. The midwife asked me to go empty my bladder before he gets too low so I went to the toilet and tried to pee. Then POP went my amniotic sack. She came over to me and said calmly that it’s probably going to get more intense now. She was right!
Within a couple minutes my body was uncontrollably pushing. These contractions didn’t hurt so much because now the sensation was in my bottom. I could feel his head from inside. It was actually amazing being so present to what was happening inside me. But I was also scared and saying that I don’t think he will fit through me. It felt like so much pressure!
I got up off the toilet after a few contractions. By this time I was actually yelling through each one from a deep place in my throat. Somehow I was able to cope by being as loud as I felt the contraction was in intensity. I went to hands and knees on the floor. Every contraction I could feel his head coming lower and lower. It was stretching me and it burned. Between them, I could feel his head go back in and it was such a relief. I remember thinking, "yes just stay in there".
By the last contraction, it was so strong, I just had to go into the pain. I knew it was the only way to get to the other side. I felt his head emerge and it was a relief. I didn’t really have a strong contraction after that. It kind of felt like my body was just done. I felt the midwife’s hand go inside me and start rotating and pulling his body, I let out the absolute biggest most powerful sounds I’ve ever heard come out of my body, and holy shit it was the biggest relief ever to feel the rest of his body leave mine.
Papa received him and held him while I took a few breaths and then flipped over onto my bottom. I was suddenly holding my baby and all the pain washed away. I could not believe what just happened.
*Trigger Warning* Next 2 paragraphs reference hemorrhage.
After about 20 minutes my midwife helped my placenta came out. I lost a lot of blood and it will always be a mystery to me if that is correlated to my baby and/or placenta being pulled out of me before they were ready. Regardless, my midwife kept calm and I will forever appreciate that she did not disturb my blissful hours after birth. With my permission, she gave a shot of pitocin in my leg and some herbs to drink and slow the bleeding.
Later on my midwives helped me to the bathroom to pee but I fainted on the toilet. It was so weird because I was there and a second later I was dreaming. I woke up after they had carried me to the bed. My midwife placed a catheter to empty my bladder and connected my arm IV fluid to help replenish my body. She made me a big smoothie with protein powder, coconut water, fruit, and pieces of my placenta. (I wasn’t planning on eating my placenta but it’s supposed to help stop a hemorrhage.) The midwife and her assistant made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for everyone, cleaned up the room, and did a load of laundry. Everybody took a well-deserved nap.
I have such an appreciation for home birth midwives. Many people think home birth is not safe. And even among the obstacles we ran into, I was totally taken care of with the skills, supplies, and support of my midwives. In addition, they gave me the space to labor in peace and let my body guide the birth. I didn't have any cervical checks. The room was quiet, dark, and cozy. And my baby was born into such a calm space.
Every single birth offers us many lessons. I am so proud of myself for having the natural birth I dreamed of. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I have a new respect for all moms, no matter where or how they give birth. Birth is not easy and we all go through this transformation in our own way. We are freaking powerful beings!
Want to watch my birth video?
*Trigger Warning* Shoulder Dystocia
With education, rewatching the video and reflecting over the years, it appears my son might have had a shoulder dystocia. This can be visible once the baby's head is born while the rest of their body remains inside. Shoulder dystocia signs include: the baby's head turning very dark blue or purple, the head moving back in (called "turtle-necking"), and the head not completing the final rotation (called "restitution"). It's also possible this would have resolved itself if we waited for another contraction.
Studies show a gentle and effective first step is to have mom flip onto hands and knees. In my beginner midwifery training, we learned a maneuver where the the midwife inserts her hands to place on baby's chest and back to gently rotate the baby. (I think my midwife might have been doing this while also pulling on his body. Thankfully, my perineum remained intact and I only had a tiny tear at the top of my labia.)
In hospitals, shoulder dystocia is dealt with very aggressively, almost always includes a severe episiotomy to the mother, and can cause long term damage to the baby. Shoulder dystocia is also more likely to occur with the use of pitocin and epidural.
Video: Natural Home Birth of Nadir Aviv