For years it has been my mission to support women in experiencing their powerful birth. Though my four previous births taught me a great deal, I never knew how much power was actually taken away from me when I birthed needlessly in captivity: AKA: a hospital. It wasn’t until I began helping with home births that I consistently saw incredibly free women in the fullness of their power, bringing forth life the way they're created to. I experienced this same fullness of physical, emotional, and spiritual power during my last birth. This is the story of my experience of Killian’s birth.
It started in Chicago, while on our baby moon. I was taking a bath when I noticed I lost my mucus plug. I normally lose my mucus plug weeks before my expected birth time, so not uncommon. However, when I saw this, instinctively, I knew this baby would be born earlier than the others.
A few days later, Tracy went on a fishing trip with several men from our church. They went to Rainy Lake, which is about fourteen hours from home with no cell service once they were out on the lake. Yes, Tracy went with my blessing, because I would be only 37 weeks and 6 six days gestation when he returned. Two days into his trip, I started to have bloody mucus show and contractions. I connected with the baby and said if he/she needed to come out now then come. However, if baby could possibly wait until Tracy came home, then please wait. Since I’ve only had bloody mucus when in active labor previously, I notify my doulas. The bloody mucus, random contractions, and generally feeling strange continued for four days. On Sunday, Tracy regained cell service and he called to check on us and to say the men were packing up to leave early Monday morning. Tracy returned home Monday evening around 7:30. We spent the evening relaxing and chatting. The night went as usual, putting the kids to bed and then we went to sleep around 11pm.
I woke at 12:50 AM on Tuesday to a contraction. I laid in bed for a few minutes before starting to time them. I really was just curious about the timing. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart and getting very intense. The intensity was to the point that I needed to move, so I rolled over and felt a small gush. I thought it was either more mucus or my waters were open. I stood up with pink fluid trickling down my leg, and was positive my waters had open. However, because I had an amino swab, I took the test. Immediately it turned dark, indicating positive for amniotic fluid. Of course, I already knew, but once again I was curious. With contractions quickly getting intense, I woke Tracy to help prepare. I called my doula/photographer, Lauren, to let her know. She said she was on her way. I almost told her to wait, but I didn’t say anything and I’m glad she came quickly.
In the meantime, Tracy was busy preparing the bed for after the birth, setting up my birth pool, and helping me through rushes. The original plan was to birth outside in, hopefully, day light. Since it was dark and labor was moving quickly, we decided to set up the pool inside. Contractions were very close and intense. I couldn’t really help with anything, except to get my birth bags into the bedroom and set out my homeopathy kits and some herbs. Lauren came and started taking pictures. With each contraction more fluid rushed out of me. After the pool was filled I decided to get in. As I was stepping in the pool, Tracy went to wake up our third child, Aizlee. She had requested to be present at the birth and after much prayer, conversation, and watching birth videos, we decided to have her attend. Aizlee came down and sat on the bed with Tracy. I labored in the tub, swaying to music and fully embracing my labor zone. With each rush, I could feel myself expanding spiritually and energetically and falling into a relaxed state of being. A few minutes later, a very intense contraction came over me and I felt some pressure. I felt inside to see where baby’s head was and the baby was still high, so I assumed I had some time. Then another intense contraction quickly came. I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement. I jump out of the pool quickly, my body taking over control and ran to the water closet in the bathroom. The water closet was dark, small, quiet, and warm. I sat on the toilet and Tracy handed me a towel. I thought I felt more than just a BM, so I checked the head again. Baby was still very high, so I thought I must need to have a BM. I began to bare down and my body took over into a primal roar and push. Tracy, Lauren and Aizlee rushed to the door. Still in the primal push, I waved my hand and commanded them to leave. They stepped aside, out of my view. Then baby’s head immerged though my pelvis and began to crown. I stood up and cried out, “It’s the baby!!!!!” I knew I wasn’t able to return to the pool, so I threw down my towel and kneeled on it. Once again, my crew came by the door, but stayed back from me as to not disturb me. I wasn’t really aware of their presence. Without pushing, the baby’s head came out and within 3 seconds the shoulders rotated and I caught the baby as the rest of his body slid out. Baby was covered in vernix! I saw he had a triple wrapped nuchal cord, so I laid him down and unwrapped the cord. Unwrapping the cord was like unwrapping my precious gift. I lifted baby to my chest and began to rub his back and to speak to my baby for the first time outside my womb. Baby began to cough and breathe. I continued to rubbed his back and connect in those first sweet moments. I ask for a towel and a chux pad. As the towel was brought, I looked to see the sex. During my pregnancy I, along with many midwives and friends, was so sure baby was a girl. In surprise I announced he is a boy!! Everyone was as surprised as I was. I placed a towel over us and just soaked up all the love of this new life. Still on my knees, I started to have after pains with the placenta being released. Then the placenta slid out on a chux pad about 10 minutes after the birth. I laid baby down and quickly examined the placenta for wholeness and placed it in the bowl. Then I picked up our son and Tracy took the bowl and we headed to the bed for more snuggles. That day I was exactly 38 weeks gestation. Labor and birth from the time I woke up, to baby in my arms was 1 hour and 45 minutes with baby arriving just over seven hours after Tracy came home. By far, my quickest labor.
He latched as soon as we got to the bed and Tracy, Aizlee, and I admired our new arrival for a couple hours. I notified my postpartum doula, Ivy, and we arranged for her to come over around 8 am. Soon after, we all fell asleep surrounded in love. Around eight we woke up and Ivy arrived shortly after and both Lauren and Ivy began cleaning up. The other three kids woke up and they all came in to see their new brother. They admired him so much and the love was so thick in the room. Being surprised that he was a boy, we didn’t have a boy name picked. So we began to search for names.
At this time the baby was still attached to the placenta and we decided to proceed with the cord burning ceremony, even though we didn’t have a name for him. A cord burning ceremony is used in many traditions as an opportunity to bless the baby as well as cauterize the cord to prevent infection. Tracy brought the burn box, which he hand- made, and the beeswax candles to our bed. Each family member took a lit candle and we positioned the baby safely by the box with protection in between. As we burned the umbilical cord we each prayed a blessing over this new gift of life. It was a beautiful ceremony. Cord burning takes a while and in the end the kids became restless, so we cut the little that was still attached.
Afterward, I examined the placenta and cord further and next I examined our baby, which included listening to his heart, lungs, bowels, looking him over, checking reflexes, weighing and measuring, and foot prints.
While we were family bonding, Ivy and Lauren were cleaning the birth space, preparing me a meal, tea, and an herbal bath. They also created two art pieces with the placenta and prepared the placenta. After a while, I decided to take an herbal bath. During my bath, we chatted about name possibilities and Anisten looked at the origin and meaning of names considered. About thirty-six hours after his birth, we decided his name is Killian Lee. Killian means “small but fierce” (as his labor) and Lee means “Healer”, because Killian was an instrument used in the healing of our marriage. Lee is also Tracy’s middle name, and comes from his maternal grandfather, Leland. We are over-joyed by the blessing of him.
Soon I will be writing a blog on the golden postpartum period, the blissful and the challenges. Stay tuned!