Isaac James Fox, born at home – Monday, February 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Chris joked with me over the weekend that he hoped I would give birth so he didn’t have to go to work on Monday. But we had also discussed having peace with not knowing when Isaac would arrive. We had to treat these days just as we treated all the previous months and days leading up to his arrival and not be anxious about what day he would arrive.
During my pregnancy I had never experienced any signs of pre-labor and at times I felt really unprepared and unsure about what was about to happen, but here are some of the things that helped me:
*Frederick, Maryland resources used for my Pregnancy Favorites are listed at the end of this blog post.
- Healthy Eating - Including protein, vegetables, and limited amounts of sugar
Everyone gains different amounts of weight, but here is what I didn't really want to tell everyone. I gained 50 lbs (130 to 180 lbs. - 5 feet 8 inches). That REALLY shocked me, but this is me at 38 weeks and closing in on 180 lbs and I didn't think I was really huge or anything. Maybe since I was exercising some of it was muscle :). It took me 7 months to lose the weight and I am back in all my pre-pregnancy clothing. Here's a link to my story about "Losing the Baby Weight".
- "Husband Coached Child Birth" by Bradley - We both read this book
- “The Womanly Art of Breast Feeding”
- Bradley Classes
- Exercise – Including pelvic tilts, squatting, kegels, elliptical machine, walking, exercise ball (birthing ball)
- Vitamins - New Chapter’s Organic Prenatal Whole Food Vitamins, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin C, Prenatal WholeMega Fish Oil
- Decreased Stress and Increased Relaxation - got massages regularly
- Chiropractor - Received regular Chiropractic care during my entire pregnancy and levelled my hips at 36 weeks to encourage a head down position.
- Pineapple Juice - Drank pure Organic Pineapple juice for heartburn
- Hypnobabies - Did the home study course for Hypnobabies– enjoyed drifting off to sleep each evening to the "Deepening" track
- Water birth at Home - We switched from an OBGYN practice to a CPM and CNM Midwife Homebirth Practice around 20 weeks. Basically I wanted personal individual care that focused less on checking boxes on a form and more about my personal pregnancy and health.
(*Please note that – Personal, individual care can be experienced at many OBGYN practices – it just wasn’t my experience at a particular practice.)
In addition, we were having difficulty with the hospital choices in our local area. My gut instinct when we became pregnant was that I didn’t want to give birth at Frederick Hospital. Mainly because they don’t allow any midwives. I had good experiences with Shady Grove, but because my husband works in Leesburg, VA it could take him almost 2 hours to drive there in rush hour traffic and I didn’t want to be dealing with that during labor. Heading towards Baltimore or Annapolis was going to be over 3 hours for my husband. In the end, many things fell into place that finally lead us towards our decision to have a homebirth. Chris and I both felt like God was leading us down this path and He kept putting people and signs in front of us that helped us make this an easy decision.
On Monday, February 6th – I woke up at 5 AM to go to the bathroom and there was some blood. That was really shocking to me. I expected the “bloody show” I had heard about, was going to be a little bit of faint blood – so I got really worried that something might be wrong. I went and woke up Chris and then I called my midwife. She told me that I “might “ be giving birth today and that I should keep her posted about how things were going and if I started to have any pressure waves (Hypnobabies term for contractions). I was also supposed to monitor the amount of blood. Turns out there wasn’t very much.
We went downstairs and Chris made me breakfast. I was having very very light / faint contractions that I barely noticed. I told Chris we should write down the times. We started to time them and the first one was around 5:15 am and then I had another one at 5:17 am. They were 2 – 3 minutes apart. I was really surprised that they were that close together, but they were so faint and light that I barely noticed them. I then took a shower to see if I could change the timing or see if anything happened differently. But nothing changed, they were still 2 - 3 minutes apart. Around 6 – 7 AM I started to feel them more clearly, but they didn’t bother me. We decided to go to the grocery store around the corner at 7 AM and pick up some cereal and cough drops (I was fighting off a cold and wanted some snacks for the “long” day ahead of us – turns out we just had 5 more hours before we would meet Isaac). The pressure waves were getting stronger around that time and the one in the car was pretty strong (maybe because I was confined by the seat belt and was not as relaxed). At the grocery store I had to sit down for them, but they were still manageable – yet I could no longer ignore them. I came home and talked to my midwife and she mentioned that I should send Chris out for a medicine because I had tested positive for something (that I can’t remember) and if I didn’t give birth in the water I would need this medicine. I am so glad that Chris never got a chance to leave the house to head out to the store because we ended up needing every minute of his time at home getting everything ready. It is comical in hindsight, that we entertained the idea that he might head into work since we didn’t know when the baby would be arriving.
I wrote a facebook message to my friends at 8 AM that I wouldn’t be able to hang out today since I “might” be giving birth. I was still in denial that I was in labor. I then went to get into our bathtub while Chris was doing other things around the house. I burned my foot because it was too hot and that took my focus off of the contractions for a while. Chris was doing A LOT for me and helping me with everything. He helped get the hypnobabies set up so I could listen to it while I was in the tub. He was constantly doing something to get things ready. My memory and ability to focus on time started to get fuzzy around 8 / 9 AM. At some point I needed to go to the bathroom – so I had Chris re-set me up to labor backwards on the toilet in the guest bathroom with my pillows and the hypnobabies CD playing. It seemed like things were moving really fast and I still only had 2 – 3 minutes in between each pressure wave. I also lost the ability to realize that I should call my midwife and tell her what was happening. I guess I was still convinced in my head that babies take FOREVER to be born so I was thinking this was only the early stages. However, the pressure waves were getting more intense and I really had to concentration and breath through them. About this time my midwife called and Chris talked to her. All of a sudden, he handed me the phone and she coached me through a pressure wave and she told me that she was on her way and the doula was headed there right now. They were about an hour and ½ away and in hindsight we should have told them to come sooner, but we just didn’t know how fast all this would happen and I lost the ability to really judge the situation myself.
Chris was then focused on getting the bed ready and the birthing tub blown up. I was starting to feel like this was getting pretty intense and I needed more physical support from him, but at the same time Chris needed to get the tub and other things in the house ready. There were some contractions on the toilet where I got pretty vocal and had difficulty relaxing through them. We then moved me to the birthing tub around 9:30 – 10 AM. From then until 10:30 – things got even more intense and I had Chris squeezing my hand really, really hard and yelling in my ear “IT’s OK”. I kept telling him to scream it louder into my ear and to really squeeze my hand. Not exactly the picture of peace and calm that hypnobabies envisions for your birth, but I wasn’t doing the yelling :).
The pressure waves started very faint and I could anticipate each one coming. It really is like an ocean wave – there is a build up and then the peak of the wave hits you and then it starts to fade away. I started to get anxious that it was just me and Chris and I needed our birthing team to get there. I kept asking him “When will they get here???? What time is it??? Where are they???” I breathed a sigh of relief when the doula came in the room around 10:30 AM.
Our midwife showed up not too much after the doula. I felt so much peace when they put their hands on me during the pressure waves and tons of relief that they had finally arrived. They quietly went about their work, checking the baby and me to make sure everything was healthy and normal. Right about that time, I felt really nauseous for several of the contractions and I started expressing some doubts that I could do this for very much longer (classic transition stage signs). It is hard to imagine that my contractions started at 2 - 3 minutes apart and they were still holding strong at 2 - 3 minutes apart. That meant that I had very limited resting periods between the waves.
Around 11 AM – the midwife told me that I would be pushing very soon. I just couldn’t believe it! It seemed shocking. She then instructed me to grunt deeply instead of moaning in a high pitch voice. She also placed her hand in front of me since I was laboring with my arms drapped over the tub towards Chris. Her arms and hands helped guide me into a more deliberate body position for each pressure wave instead of just letting them crash over me. I still had Chris yelling in my ear – “It’s OK” - over and over again whenever I went into a contraction. The birthing team never did any internal measurements or told me how dialated or effaced I was during my entire pregnancy and also during my labor. She had ways of telling what the baby’s station was and also relied on how I was feeling and what kind of behavior I was experiencing. It is amazing how it seemed to go naturally how it was supposed to go.
We had the room really dark and hypnobabies was playing in the background. Even our dog, Harlee came to me at one point to say “hi” and knew to be calm and quiet and laid down beside the birthing tub. Around 11:30 AM, I started to really push. The pressure waves were still really strong and I didn’t get much of a break in between. Things kept moving so quickly and it felt like I was just along for the ride. It felt like there was nothing that was going to stop my body from doing what it was supposed to be doing. It seemed like in no time the birthing team was telling me that they could feel his head.
Up until now I had been leaning over the tub, but about this time I wanted to lean back vertical on the tub. So Chris moved behind me to support my shoulders and chest. I had my feet under me and I was squatting. Chris wanted to go around to the front so he could catch the baby (he was outside of the tub and never got into the tub), but I told him that I really needed his support to hold onto my shoulders during the birth. I could feel Isaac crowning – which was burning – and because of my fear of tearing I felt very unsure about how this was going to happen. I got nervous at this point. I wish that I hadn’t been nervous, but I didn’t mentally process this part of the birth beforehand. His head came out and that was the only time I opened my eyes and looked. I should have never opened my eyes. It didn’t even occur to me that I had my eyes shut for at least the last 30 minutes and I was in kind of a zone / bubble of peace inside my head. But once I opened my eyes and saw his head and processed everything visually that was happening – I was snapped out of that space and freaked out a little. Even though I “knew” Isaac couldn’t drown in the birthing tub, my brain went into “get him out now!” mode and I wanted to push the rest of him out in the very next push. I just remember bearing down hard and then he was born at 12:15 PM. I had so much emotion built up inside of me – that I let out a huge piercing scream. I am kind of embarrassed about that scream. Not exactly the most welcoming voice to greet your baby and I shocked everyone in the room, but this scream came out of nowhere. I don’t remember much other than they handed Isaac to me almost immediately and Chris and I sat there looking at him and marveled at how amazing he was. And I kept saying “It’s a baby”! I guess I was really in shock that I just gave birth to a baby. He was a lot cleaner than I expected and he had lots of really dark hair. He didn’t cry much, but he was wimpering a little and I sang “Hush little baby” to him.
They got me out of the tub and over to the bed about 30 minutes after the birth. Chris cut the cord after it had finished pulsing and I birthed the placenta. Time at this point all merges together. I had to have stitches (about 5) for a second degree tear. I started nursing Isaac and he took to it great. We were off to a great start with nursing. We both did lots of skin to skin contact with Isaac most of that day. I have no idea how long it was (maybe 2 hours) when they finally did all the checks on Isaac that they couldn’t do while I was holding him. They weighed him (8 lbs 6 ounces) and took his measurements (21 inches long).
Lindsey Welch Photography)
I was really unprepared for what would happen after the birth and what the recovery process would look like for me and how much help Chris and I really did need. This whole experience gave me an appreciation for new mom’s and what their needs are right after they give birth. I am so blessed that we had so many friends and family come and help us and even do little things like drop off a meal or a “recovery” care package. The thing I remember is that I equated trying to sleep with Christmas Eve and waiting for Santa to come. I was just so excited to lay next to this precious baby that I had been growing inside me for 9 months and I couldn’t fall asleep from all the excitement.
Here is our Birth Story (starting at minute 3:00 on the Mama Natural Show - Click on the Photo)
Judi woke me shortly before 5am. She was concerned by some blood, which she thought was excessive. I accompanied her back to the bathroom, where she showed me, only this time it wasn’t as much. I was a little concerned as well, but I also knew that this wasn’t unexpected. The questions were: was this too much, and, did this mean she was in labor? Judi called the midwife to ask about the blood. The midwife wasn’t too concerned, and asked in a kind of knowing tone if this was going to be the baby’s birthday.
We went downstairs and I asked Judi if she was feeling any contractions. She said no, that the whole area just ached down there. Shortly thereafter she told me she was feeling something, but she wasn’t sure if it was a contraction. We started timing the “something” and it was a consistent three minutes apart.
Surprised that the contractions were so close together, but still not positive she was in labor, we decided to go to the grocery store to pick up some things. While at the store, the contractions increased in intensity such that she had to sit down when one occurred. Judi mused about getting a movie to pass time while labor progressed – which in retrospect seems comical considering how fast things started to move.
Back at the house, the contractions continued at three minutes apart but continued gaining intensity. At this point it was obvious she was in labor, but we were both surprised that it was so intense so soon. We filled up the bathtub. Judi got in (after first burning her foot because the water was too hot). Being in the water helped, but she needed more space than the bathroom tub could offer.
She got out of the bathtub, tried several different positions, and eventually ended up sitting backward on the toilet. I tried keeping pressure on her upper back through some of the contractions, but they were still very intense. Judi called the midwife to tell her to come to the house.
While she labored, I set up the bed and the birthing tub. Once ready, she stepped into the tub which helped alleviate some of the pressure. However the contractions were still very intense. All I could do was hold her hand (very tightly at her request) and keep repeating in her ear “it’s OK”, which comforted her.
About this time, the doula showed up. She helped comfort Judi while also setting up her things for the birth. Judi was becoming increasingly concerned about the intensity. We had no idea how much longer this was going to last, but considering it had only started about five hours earlier, we thought it could be many more hours.
It wasn’t until the midwife showed up that we realized how far Judi had already progressed. She said Judi was “almost there” and that we did not have much time left. Initially I thought she was just saying this to help calm Judi, after all, she didn’t even know how dilated Judi was.
But, midwives have ways of telling progression without knowing dilation. Shortly after she said that, Judi started feeling the urge to push. The contractions, however, did not reduce in pain. She tried leaning back on the tub walls, which felt like a better position to push from. I moved around behind her to help hold her up, still holding her hand. At some point, her water broke. Judi kept pushing whenever she felt the urge, and soon I could see Isaac’s head peaking out (although it didn’t really look like a head at first).
About three minutes later, he popped out the rest of the way, whimpering but not really crying. Judi’s initial reaction to being handed Isaac was a ear-piercing scream followed by “It’s a baby!”. Not the typical reaction. His face was scrunched up, but very cute. He skin was clean, due to being birthed in water, and only slightly wrinkly. He had lots of hair on his head.
After spending about 30 minutes in the tub, the midwives coaxed Judi out and onto the bed. About 15 minutes later, Judi birthed the placenta, which was later dried and capsulated for Judi’s consumption. Apart from a short evaluation the midwife and doula did on Isaac, Judi was never apart from him (and always well within visibility).
While we laid on the bed, the two of them cleaned everything up, leaving the house around 3 PM. This was 10 hours after Judi woke me up. I remember feeling a little shocked that everything had happened so quickly – and so conveniently too, regarding time. We had woken up that morning, only a bit early, and here it was: not even dinnertime, and we had Isaac in our hands, all by ourselves.
REQUEST FOR SUPPORT - A homebirth or a midwife might not be something that you personally would choose, but everyone should be able to make this choice for themselves. When I became pregnant, I was shocked to find out that my birth options were very VERY limited in Maryland. I am saddened by the fact that I am unable to name my wonderful, amazing midwife and doula team because of Maryland laws. It is difficult for me to even understand just how amazing it is that they put themselves in a compromised professional position – so that I could still have the freedom to choose a homebirth with a Certified Professional Midwife and Certified Nurse Midwife team. If you believe ALL women should have a CHOICE in how they give birth (whether it would be your choice or not) – Please consider supporting – Maryland Families for Safe Birth and click to sign the petition!
Thank you so much! XO, Judi, Chris, and Isaac Fox
Frederick, Maryland Pregnancy Resources
Mid Atlantic Chiropractic Center - Dr. Rashidian – www.midatlanticclinic.com
Massages – Devon Casey - www.mandalahealingartstudio.com
Pediatrician - Dr. Rothschild – www.gaiahealing.com
Placenta Encapsulation – http://belladonnaherbals.webs.com/services.htm
Bradley Class - Melissa and Brian Snyder - www.bradleybirth.com/melissasnyder
La Lech League, Frederick, Maryland - www.lllofmd-de-dc.org/Frederick.html
Common Market – Vitamins and Healthy Food - www.commonmarket.com
Hypnobabies - www.hypnobabies.com (Check out Ebay for used copies)
368 Athletics Gym – Shannon Wallace - www.368athletics.com
Photography - Barb Cambell - http://studio11photos.com/
Photography (Photo on the right - Isaac at 5 months old) - Lindsey Welch - www.lindseywelchphotography.com/