Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dio's birth story

Birth stories usually begin when labor starts. With Zari’s birth, labor began fairly unmistakably (although I didn’t admit that to myself until halfway through) and 10 hours later I had a baby.

With Dio’s birth, I could say labor began at any number of points: on Saturday morning, when I began to have painful, though sporadic, contractions that felt better if I moved through them. On Saturday night at midnight, when I first saw bloody show and had labor diarrhea. On Sunday morning before church, when the contractions seemed more consistent and required that I sway my hips through them. Or on Sunday late morning while Eric and Zari were away at church, when the contractions became undeniably intense and I knew that labor was definitely happening.

I’ll start my story, though, at 7 am on Sunday morning, when I finally let myself get out of bed and stop ignoring the contractions. I rocked on the birth ball, checked my email, and wrote a blog post wondering if I was in labor or not. I called the midwife to let her know I’d been feeling something kind of like labor contractions for the past 24 hours and that I had bloody show and diarrhea at midnight. I told her not to be surprised either way; maybe things would pick up, but maybe not.

Then I got ready for church, since I was not at all convinced that I was really in labor. I was dressed from head to toe—earrings, necklace, nice shirt and skirt, and my oh-so-sexy thigh-high compression hose—and ready to head out the door. Eric looked at me circling my hips through every contraction and said, “Rixa, I really think you should stay home.” I admitted I probably would make a bit of a scene at church, because I had to move through the contractions at this point. So I sent him and Zari off at quarter to nine with the assurance that I’d call him if I needed anything. After all, he was only two minutes away.

Eric got asked a million questions when he and Zari showed up without me. I didn’t think it at all strange to send them off while I was (maybe?) in labor, but I guess some people at church did!

Since I was playing hooky from church, I figured I’d devote some time to meditating and reading about spiritual matters. So I sat at the computer, reading and rocking on my birth ball. Eric called periodically to check in with me while he was at church. After the first call around 10:15 am, I could still talk through contractions. When he called again an hour later, things were getting really intense.

For fun I timed contractions on Contraction Master—another first, since I never timed them during Zari’s labor--and they were always at least a minute long. That surprised me; they seemed much shorter than that. They became closer together during the hour or two when I was timing them. They started out at 5-6 minutes apart and were less than 4 minutes apart by 12:30 pm.

I loved having the time at home alone. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny spring morning. The house was quiet. I had time to slowly gather my supplies and put everything in order: eat snacks and drink juice, go to the bathroom multiple times, do laundry, and get things ready upstairs in the birth room.

Eric and Zari came home shortly after noon. He fed Zari lunch and put her down for a nap. At this point I was starting to lose my desire to eat, even though I was still a bit hungry. I tried eating a bite of the morel mushroom dish we had made the night before. Nope. Not interested. I’ve discovered a new way to tell if you’re in labor: when even morel mushrooms don’t taste good, you know it’s the real thing!

Like during Zari’s labor, I had to stand during contractions, leaning over a table or counter, and sway my hips. I would put much of my weight on my arms and dip my hips back and forth in a big U shape, or rock them from side to side. I breathed in and out deeply, exhaling a deep, silent haaaaaaaaa or whooooooo or yeoooow. I circled my head back and forth. I felt contractions in the same place as my first labor: low down above my pubic bone from hip to hip. They were like sharp, knifelike menstrual cramps.

Labor was really picking up. I started filling the tub when Eric came home, knowing it would take at least an hour and a half until it was ready. I also noticed that familiar endorphin rush: a dizzy, spinney, floaty feeling.

I called the midwife around 1 pm and let her know I was definitely in labor. I wasn’t quite ready for her to come over yet, but I would call when I was. I called her back at 1:30 pm and said “come over—I don’t want to think any longer about when to call you!”

By this time, labor was crazy intense, more than Zari’s labor ever was. I started feeling flushed and dizzy and shaky. I also started feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. I wanted it to stop. I didn’t want to do this any more. I really understood, for the first time, why women take drugs in labor. To know that someone or something can just make it go away is almost irresistibly seductive. That’s one of the reasons I don’t put myself in an environment where I have that option, because I know that I really don’t want it to go away and I know that I can do it. I recognized that these were all classic signs of transition. I remember thinking, if this isn’t really transition, I am screwed.

Once Zari was sleeping, Eric helped me get some last things ready: filling the birth pool the second time, bringing any last supplies upstairs, pulling off my compression hose. I was still dressed from head to toe in my church clothes at this point! I took off my necklace and earrings and my Hypnobabies mp3s, which I had been listening to on and off. He gave me a blessing, which was specific and very reassuring that my body was healthy made to do this, that I would be able to give birth to this baby. When I was pushing and wondering if I wanted to check myself for dilation/progress, I recalled the blessing and thought, nope, not necessary, I know everything is working as it should be.

Shortly before 2 pm, I had a contraction while leaning over the entryway table. I heard that familiar catch in the back of my throat and felt some rectal pressure. I had an urge to drop down on my knees. Oh great. I knew what was coming next—pushing—and I wasn’t all that excited. I don’t like pushing. Sure, it means the baby will be here soon, but for me pushing doesn’t feel better. It feels worse!

Eric suggested we head upstairs, which was really a brilliant idea. I’m not sure I would have made it up because I was still in the “I hope I am really in active labor and not deluding myself” headspace. I got dressed in my bikini, top and bottom. Not sure what I was thinking when I put the bottoms on, since I had to pull them off a few contractions later. You can see them floating behind me in the pool in several of the pictures.

The tub was full but way too hot, so we pumped out some water and added more cold until it was pleasantly lukewarm. It was warm upstairs, about 80 degrees, and the water felt heavenly. It did take the edge off the first contraction (which mas the last real labor-only contraction). I knelt in the tub, facing outward and leaning my elbows on the edge.

The midwife arrived a bit after 2 pm. I started having pushy contractions, each one more and more pushy and less and less labor-y. She took heart tones, then left us alone for a little bit. As soon as the pushy contractions hit, I needed something to grab onto. I asked Eric to kneel down on the floor facing me. I grabbed both of his forearms, like we were double arm wrestling, and held on for dear life as my body began pushing.

I had an almost irresistible urge to bite on something during the contractions. Eric was very, very lucky that I didn’t chomp down on his arms. Twilight moment averted.

More pushing, more rectal pressure, more grunting and vocalizations. The midwife came back in the room. My water broke. Another first—I never noticed it breaking during Zari’s labor (it did at some point, of course, since she didn’t come out in the caul). I said, “my water just broke!” I looked down and saw specks of vernix floating gently downward in the water. The baby’s head descended rapidly. When I felt it hit my perineum, I slapped my right hand down to support my tissues while maintaining a death grip on Eric’s arm with my left hand. As I was doing this, this passage from Gloria Lemay’s article Midwife’s Guide to an Intact Perineum flashed through my mind:
The next distinct feeling is a burning, pins-and-needles feeling at the opening of the vagina. Many women describe this as a “ring of fire” all around the vaginal opening. It is instinctive to slap your hand down on the now-bulging vulva and try to control where the baby’s head is starting to emerge. This instinct should be followed. It seems to really help to have your own hands there.
I felt something really funky—a large blob or bubble of tissue sticking out in the front. Behind it was the familiar oval slit of the vagina with a bit of wrinkly baby head. I said, “something feels funny.” The midwife asked if it felt wrinkly, assuming I was referring to the sometimes surprisingly soft folds of the baby’s scalp as it first crowns. No, I felt that, too. This was something else. I poked and pinched it gently, hoping it wasn’t some part of my anatomy that was coming out with the baby! Then I figured it out—it was a little bubble of amniotic sac. I pressed it a little harder, and it deflated. (In a video right after the birth, you can see me telling Eric and the midwife what that “funny thing” was).

With each contraction, the head emerged more and more. I applied counterpressure to the head, varying the pressure between the front and back depending on where I felt more pressure and stinging. As much as crowning, and pushing in general, was wild and crazy and painful, it was amazingly cool to once again support my baby’s head as it emerged out of my body. There’s nothing like feeling your baby’s head come out, bit by bit, into the palm of your hand. Every woman deserves that experience.

The midwife listened to heart tones once more (they were always great with lots of variability), then began taking pictures, for which I was very grateful. I had wanted to also film the birth, but things went too quickly to get the camcorder set up. I was really vocalizing: grunting, growling, panting, and lots of other sounds that don’t really have a name. All totally instinctive and spontaneous.

Then that glorious feeling of the baby’s head emerging fully. No pause between the head and body this time, just a great spiraling sensation as the baby’s body emerged. I looked down as its body was halfway out and saw a face, eyes wide open, looking up at me through the water. I grabbed the baby, its body still slipping out of mine, and lifted it gently out of the water. It was about 2:33 pm—we all forgot to look at the clock, so the time of birth is our best guess—and I had only been pushing in earnest for 15 or 20 minutes.
You can see the bottom half of his face at the very top of the photo.
The baby seemed impossibly tiny to me. I said something about it being so small. It began crying right away, and I caressed its smooth body.
By this time Eric was filming. I took a peek between its legs and found that we had a boy!
I sent Eric down to wake Zari up from her nap and meet her new brother. He came back alone, unable to wake her up.

Note: click on "HD" and maximize the screen to see the videos in high-def!

The cord was a bit on the short side and the water wasn’t overly warm, so I got out probably 5 or 10 minutes after the birth. We snuggled in bed with a towel over me and Dio. He cried for a few minutes, then calmed down and began opening up his eyes.

Eric helped me sit up a bit more so he could nurse.

The midwife left us alone, as we had discussed beforehand. I don’t remember seeing her again until we asked her to come up about an hour after the birth to help cut the cord. Eric was finally able to wake Zari up at 3:30 pm. She touched Dio, hesitantly at first. One of the first things she said was, “he has little tiny ears.”

Note: this video shows a few seconds of bare breast, so be warned!

We cut the cord and I asked if the placenta was detached. It was, so the midwife encouraged me to bear down a bit as she held onto the cord. It came out with a few pushes. The assistant took the placenta and collected some cord blood with a syringe, to check the baby’s Rh factor. I handed the baby over to Eric and Zari and took a quick shower. The midwife weighed and measured Dio and did a newborn exam. Everything was perfect. She checked me for tears. I had two periurethral tears, but they were perfectly straight and approximated, no stitches needed. No perineal tears and just a tiny skidmark inside my vagina. Yay! My bottom feels great, besides the normal after-birth tenderness and some minor stinging when I pee.

The next few hours were spent snuggling, admiring the baby, and ingesting large quantities of food and juice. I am always ravenous right after I have a baby. The midwife and her assistant were busy doing laundry, cleaning up, and heating up food for me to eat. They left around 5 pm with smiles and well-wishes. The midwife said to me laughingly, “this birth will really make you wonder why you didn’t go unassisted!” since she really didn’t do much midwifey stuff at all, except check heart tones and examine me and the baby a while after the birth. But that was exactly what I had wanted and what we had talked about beforehand, so I assured her that it was just perfect. And it was.

I have no regrets about anything, nothing I’d nit-pick over and wish I’d done differently. (Okay, except I wish I had filmed the birth, but that doesn’t really count!) The midwife's presence didn’t disturb me or interrupt my labor at all, and I was very glad she was there to take pictures. I also loved having the postpartum help with cleaning and food. The timing of everything worked out perfectly—having the quiet time alone in the morning, Zari napping during the most intense part of labor when I really needed Eric around, the midwife arriving just as I began pushing.
A few hours old

Some final comments:

Faster does not mean easier. Although this birth went more quickly than Zari’s, if you count from when labor really kicked into gear, it was not necessarily any easier. In fact, I’d say that it was much more challenging and intense, both physically and mentally, than my first birth. I skipped the classic transition phase the first time around, but during this labor it really hit me.

Posterior? I don’t think Dio was posterior during labor. Heart tones indicated he was always ROT, as he had been during the last several weeks of pregnancy. I also felt no back labor at all. What the midwife and I think happened is that he stayed ROT during the whole labor and spun posterior at the very end, as he barreled down through the pelvis. It’s a lot faster to go from ROT to OP than to spin the other way around! I didn’t look down until after his head and half his body were out, so I can’t say for sure whether the head itself came out OP, or just rotated that way after it had emerged.

Denial is your best friend in labor. I could have easily exhausted myself, both physically and psychologically, if I had paid too much attention to my contractions. I almost didn’t go to bed on Saturday night because the contractions were quite strong and painful and because I was seeing bloody show, which had signaled the start of labor when I was pregnant with Zari. Making myself stay in bed and sleep, if only fitfully between contractions, was a lifesaver. Because I did this, labor only seemed to begin some time between 10 and 11 am on Sunday. I could technically claim to have been in labor for 28+ hours, or 14+ hours from the onset of bloody show. But instead, labor lasted between 3 ½ and 4 ½ hours long in my mind. Much easier to integrate and work through!


  1. Thank you for sharing Dio's birth story. I'm so glad you had a wonderful birth and that he was born into your loving hands. Congratulations! I hope loads of friends are lined up to bring meals and lend a hand when needed. Hope nursing is going well. Again, congratulations!!

    Happy birth day Dio and welcome to the world!!!

  2. I wish it didn't seem so much like a foreign (exotic, intoxicating) experience for me to read Rixa's birth experiences. I've got three daughters, and what I really experienced myself during them could be told in a few sentences, and wouldn't really involve my body at all.

    Congratulations, Rixa!

    Thanks for sharing your fears, your difficulties, and your triumphs!

  3. god i love home birth!! they are magic and im so glad you have posted the vidoes for us to share. Priceless. but they make me want to have more! What a beautiful boy! and such a competent you! well done.

  4. Thank you for sharing! I love your blog and esp. the last few entries of Dio's birth. Congratulations!
    I love how you look and sound so calm right after you have given birth. You give me a lot of faith in birth, which I need because someday I'm hoping for a VBA2C (maybe HBAC).

  5. This was such a beautiful birth story, Rixa. In reading the two (Zari's and Dio's), I love how you were so able to be in the moment each time, allowing youself the freedom and presence of mind to do exactly what you set out to do. With Zari, you did it alone, as you knew you could. With Dio, you allowed yourself to use (even need) Eric, and the way the support happened, just in place, seemed absolutely perfect each time.

    Both your flexibility and resolve are just asounding and amazing. Can't wait to see some pix of Dio in the coming days!

    You are such an inspiration!

  6. Congratulations, Rixa!!! So glad to hear everything went well!

  7. What a beautiful story, Rixa! Thanks for sharing Dio's birth story with us. The videos brought tears to my eyes. The love in those videos just jumped right off the screen!

  8. Beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing :)

    I love how Zari thinks Dio wants a strawberry ... that's far too cute!

    I'm a bit jealous you could sleep between contractions. I started contracting at 10pm but couldn't sleep because the contrax were so painful when I laid down that I couldn't bear them. I ended up checking email, etc. while swaying through them by myself until around 4am when I woke the hubby ... and Gwen was born at 1:37, so I was TIRED that night!

  9. This is great to read and makes me want to get pregnant!! I love seeing the videos, too. How interesting it must be to have this birth so well-documented compared to Zari's. Lovely.

    BTW, I was wondering if Zari still nurses? How has that worked in terms of her nursing/being pregnant/having another baby? This is something I wonder about when I think about having another (Robin still nurses 4 or 5 times a day).

  10. Rixa - I am so glad Dio is here and both of you are healthy. I thought Zari showed such kindness and love that when you mentioned eating the strawberry she immediately got it for you. Enjoy the new baby boy and these moments with your family.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story so candidly. It is so beautiful to hear stories like this and I can't wait to experience it myself (pain and all). Congratulations again Rixa! PS I love his name.

  12. I completely agree about the fast labor!! I had a 2 1/2 hour labor from first ctx to delivery, and it was the most painful labor of all mine, as well as the shortest. I felt like I was strapped to the front of a train. But it was over almost as soon as it started, so no big deal.

  13. Thank you for sharing! What a lovely birth story. I'll definitely be remembering the denial trick in a few months!

    Congratulations again!

  14. Fabulous! And so precious to see Zari meet him! Thank you for sharing this with us. It has given me some ideas about what I want the next time around (like supporting the baby's head with my own hands). :-)

  15. Congratulations! Lovely birth and beautiful baby. Your midwife shares my "practice" style; I don't usually do much "midwifery" beyond getting heart tones and supporting the woman/family's environment; very, very nice to see someone else still in that space. I smiled when I read "denial is your friend in labor". I always used to tell women to "ignore labor as long as possible" and they often wondered why until afterwards! Get some rest now and enjoy your beautiful new family. Blessings on all of you.

  16. Thanks for sharing, Rixa. Beautiful!

  17. This is beautiful, thank you for taking the time to write it up! I absolutely LOVE how Zari gives you the strawberry with out you even asking for it, and proceeds to rip off the stem and leaves! WHAT!?!? Where did you get this child? Wonderful. =0)

  18. YAY! I'll have to watch the videos later. I absolutely agree that feeling your baby's head come out into yuor hand is the most amazing thing EVER. E.V.E.R. I mean, if you've never done it then yeah, it seems like a no-brainer, of course it will be cool, but when you are in that moment, doing it, feeling it, it's just beyond words. It took my breath away!

    -Jill (nsi)

  19. Another wonderful, totally normal birth... such a lovely story. Congratulations Rixa (and Eric and Zari), and may you have a beautiful blissful babymoon. :)

  20. My breath caught and my eyes welled up right when Eric said how beautiful you are. (it's so true) But there was such love in his voice and you can tell he is one happy papa!!

    what was it like for him to see Dio's birth?
    My hubby is an "above the equator" kind of guy. Lol

    Immediately afterward you looked so aware and present in mind. I was surprised!
    Congratulations and thankyou for sharing your birth story with us. I agree with a previous commenter, makes me want another.

    We're hopefully planning to conceive in sept/oct for a summer baby next year, but we'll see what happens!

  21. congratulations to your whole family. it was great to see how aware and joyful you were. and Zari is clearly well-trained:)

  22. ahh rixa- i read you post and wtched video this morning wothout sound. tonight i had sound and was reduced to tears. when eric told you how beautiful you were- perfect symmetry! love. if only people knew just how empowering birth is and can be. your post goes some way to illustrate this. great great video and again, it made me want that time all over again, that unfolding of life before your eyes in a space you have created. heaven on earth.

  23. what a lovely story, thanks for sharing and congratulations on your new arrival!

  24. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Enjoy your little one, and get lots of rest. :o)

  25. Rixa,

    Congratulations! Dio is just beautiful and it looks like it was a wonderful birth.

    Thank you for sharing these private moments with us. The videos are amazing. I was especially touched by the second one, where you are cuddling so blissfully, Dio is just barely waking up and touching you with his tiny hand, and Eric tells you how beautiful you are. Just... thank you.

  26. Rixa,
    That story was absolutely beautiful. Those videos were so special, and I could feel the love you have for each other just watching them. I can't even put into words how beautiful you are. What a special birthday for little Dio to have. Congratulations!

  27. Congratulations on the new little one! Glad everything went well.

  28. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Absolutely beautiful. I'm already a birth junkie, but this really gets the mom in me aching for another one! I just love reading birth stories. Congratulations!

  30. Congratulations! I pray that I have as powerful and empowering experiences as you have had - thank you for sharing!

  31. Thank you for sharing that's so wonderful! I love it! I just had my first baby - 19.5 hour labour, very exhausting, but my little man came in weighing a healthy 7.7lbs. It was a nightmare delivery (tore both ways!) to be honest, maybe thats because he's my first! I had an epidural after 15 hours but his head wouldn't move down so they had to assist. I was pretty worried that he wouldn't latch on because of the epidural, but he seems to be feeding fine and I am a very proud and happy mother of Marlow. You should hare your story with all the other mummies at I know they would love it! xxx

  32. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful birth story. Dio is just lovely. The videos are amazing. I love your every description and BOY does it take me back to our out-of-hospital experience. It's so true that denial is your best friend. I guess I'd say that your entire state-of-mind is. Reminding ourselves that this is normal and that the birth process isn't something meant to be timed and broken down into perfect scientific measures of moments and happenings.

    Thank you again. I'm going to go link to your story for my bloggy firends.

  33. Thankyou so much for sharing this! Absolutely beautiful photos and videos. Great to remember the feelings of labour and postpartum :) Here's to hoping I'll get to experience birth this time!!

  34. Hooray! lovely - just lovely... congrats!!

  35. I just found your blog, and this was a wonderful birth story! Now, THIS, is how I define a "normal" birth...though not ordinary, I think this is how normal should sound.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  36. Beautiful, thank you for sharing! (my first time wandering here, lovely!)

  37. Rixa, congratulations, such a wonderful birth experience!!!! Dio is gorgeous. Enjoy him :)

  38. Wonderful! I love that you sent your DH to church and you were peaceful at home, just wondering if it was it!

  39. Wonderful Rixa! I identified with your experience so much. The labor denial...yes! Truly is your best friend!

    So glad you had such a healthy and happy labor and birth :D

  40. I especially loved how Zari so attentively prepared the strawberry for you. What a great helper. There is no hunger that compares with the hunger after giving birth!
    Congratulations from another LDS unassisted home birther!

  41. Congratulations! That is a lovely birth story. My Ivy was posterior the entire last trimester and all through labor. I transitioned with no dilation if you can imagine that. But I got to experience labor fully and I'm grateful for that. Your story is inspiring and your son is beautiful!

  42. What a beautiful story. Love all the detail. My second birth was extremely quick--2 hours total (and that is really *total,* like I had diarrhea at 12:45, bloody show at 1:30, and a baby at 2:45. Of course, with a lot more going on in between those things!). Fast labors are definitely extremely intense and you really have to "run to keep up" almost. I was nearly silent during my first labor and in my second I talked constantly--I had to "coach" myself basically in order to stay on the "train."

    Keep enjoying the babymoon!


  43. I am amazed and thankful about how clearly you recall the birth!!! What a great story -- Congratulations!

  44. Yes, I agree. Denial is a wonderful thing in labor. If you concentrate on pain. Pain is what you will get. Nice story. I am so glad everyone is well.

  45. This was great. Congratulations to all of you.

  46. You made my day with this good news, Rixa. C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S
    I was with Carla Hartley this afternoon and was telling her that one of my favourite things about the last Trust Birth Conference was watching all of the digital native birth experts hanging out together and loving each other. Gives me a lot of hope for the future.

  47. I'm happy to read those wonderful news! Congrats!! You are so cute together.
    Be blessed!

    A silent reader from Sweden :-)

  48. You are incredible to me! I want to have a birth just like yours one day. Thank you for being so awesome and sharing your experiences and beliefs. After so many people discouraging me from natural birth, your writing is inspirational and encouraging. Thank you!

  49. I was hoping you might comment on how you used hypnobirthing during this labor?
    Loved reading your birth story. Having my second baby in late June (this time at home and with hopefully less intervention!) and found your words very inspiring. Thank you, Sarah

  50. I just had a chance to watch the videos all the way through with sound, and my favorite part is how little Zari took so much effort to pick every little leaf off of the strawberry before giving it to you. I don't know why... but that made me cry! So much love in that one little room. :)

  51. belated congrats! thanks for sharing your story.

  52. I saw your videos. Its amazing. Your child is so cute. Amazing videos. Thanks for sharing. It must have been great and different experience for you. Underwater birth means delivery occurs while the mother is submerged in water. In this method, mother and new born child are benefited. But sometimes child has threat of inhalation also. Good your delivery happened smoothly.

  53. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world! I am so glad I found your stories. I am pregnant with our second and I am desperately hoping and praying that this labor and delivery will be vastly different than my first. I was fairly "absent" from my first delivery because I was in such shock at the level of pain I experienced (free-standing birth center water birth) - all I wanted was to get away from it. When she was finally birthed, and I was holding her, even then my thoughts were consumed with relief that it was over and feeling a bit traumatized. I have always grieved that I didn't experience the euphoria that so many women talk about experiencing immediately after labor.

    I like what you said about denial - I think that will be key for me, to have a better birth experience. Firstly, I need to ignore labor as long as possible to conserve energy and then secondly, I need to focus on getting THROUGH the pain rather than avoiding it. Still not sure how I'm going to pull off the second part but I'm going to keep reading about home birth and see what I can glean. (We're having a midwife-assisted home birth this time.)

    You are my first "stop" on this journey I'm taking and I think the tip to ignore labor as long as possible will probably be one of the most valuable things I'll have gleaned. :)

    Thank you again!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...