This Is Home Birth

At 41 weeks and 3 days on a Thursday, I waved my white flag of surrender. I had been dealing with extreme itching for 6+ weeks all over my body, including the most unmentionable, god-awful areas. And although Oliver was mostly anterior (perfect position for labor and delivery), at the top of 41 weeks he flipped to posterior which meant he was back to hitting the nerves near my cervix, giving me the pleasantly-named “lightning crotch” that sends a sharp, searing, nerve pain down the inner thigh out of nowhere. I was trying to “walk the baby out” for weeks and now I couldn’t walk very far at all without practically collapsing from this debilitating pain and my itching was so extreme that it was keeping me from sleeping. So, on our walk that day, I had two of those searing pains and I just stopped in the middle of the street and had a total breakdown. And I sobbed as I hobbled the rest of the way home. I text my midwife, Kate, that between the itching and nerve pain, I could not handle it anymore and was ready break my water. Since I had been closely monitored and had 7+ membrane strips within the previous two weeks (my choice but supported by my midwife), she already knew internally, everything was R E A D Y, and agreed that if Oliver didn’t come by Saturday morning, we could break my water. I called my mom to fill her in and sobbed some more. I was so mentally and physically spent and felt I had done everything in my power to coax baby out with teas and supplements and walking and sex and membrane strips and literally everything you can think of.

41 weeks, 4 days pregnant.

41 weeks, 4 days pregnant.

The evening of 41 weeks 4 days, I started to have very mild surges over night, but by morning they had stopped. I bounced on the ball, did the Miles circuit and went for as much of a walk as I could handle to try to get the surges going again but nothing was happening. So my midwife came around 430pm that day, did an NST (non stress test) on Oliver to make sure the placenta was still functioning correctly and said that she would only break my water if conditions were safe; he passed all her tests with flying colors. Once your water breaks, it is not quite as easy for baby to shift positions, and since he was still posterior (great recipe for back labor, which I had with Lucy - no thank you!), we did what’s called the Rebozo technique. I got on my hands and knees and my midwife wrapped a scarf around my belly and from the top, proceeded to “shimmy” my belly back and forth gently. I felt Oliver scurrying around a little so I knew he was moving, and after maybe 5 minutes, we checked his position and he had flipped 180 degrees to anterior! So I hurried and hopped on the bed to keep him in this ideal position and we broke my water at 5pm. Weirdest feeling ever. (; Before my water broke, I was somewhere around 3cm dilated (but able to be stretched to 5cm since my cervix was so pliable and soft) and about 50-60% effaced.

Kate left and advised me to keep in very close contact with her. We knew things could begin immediately or could take a day or two to get going. But, for weeks everyone had predicted that because of the early work my body did internally, once labor did decide to start, it would likely not be a very long labor.

It took about 15 minutes to get my first surge. I called my parents who were at Jamba Juice and asked if they could come bring me a smoothie and have dinner with us to keep me company so I wasn’t just sitting there thinking about starting labor. I then had 3 surges within 9 minutes, so I text Kate, unsure of what was a normal response to breaking the water and unsure if the surges were only a result of messing with the cervix. She responded, “I’m turning around.”

My parents arrived at 530pm and my surges had quickly reached 4 minutes apart, lasting about 45-60 seconds in length. At about 6pm, I made my way to my birthing ball and told Sam that since Kate was on her way and I was pretty sure I was officially in labor, that he could get the birth pool up. Of course… we completely forgot the liner for the pool so after getting the pool almost full, Sam and my dad had to use buckets and hoses to drain it completely, dry it completely and refill it again. There was officially a pep in their step since they didn’t know how quickly this was going to go. (;

Filling the birth tub and then praying over the labor and delivery

Filling the birth tub and then praying over the labor and delivery

This labor felt completely different than my labor with Lucy, which you can read about here. Because Lucy was a posterior baby, something we did not know at the time, I had back labor my entire 22 hour labor. My contractions were on top of each other, never giving me a break in between. I couldn’t take two steps without having a surge and only had very slight relief when Sam or my mom squeezed my hips together. I moaned like a bear through every surge until the end; it was the only way to deal with the intensity of my surges. But with Oliver, I was able to meet each surge only with my breath, a mantra I repeated to myself over the course of my entire labor. It reminded me to keep my hands unclenched, brows unfurrowed, and jaw soft. At no point did I ever feel out of control or like I could not handle my surges even when they began to grow in intensity.

My doula, Lisa and I. Doulas are so UNDERRATED! Also, this photo makes me look much bigger than I actually was! Haha! / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

My doula, Lisa and I. Doulas are so UNDERRATED! Also, this photo makes me look much bigger than I actually was! Haha! / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Somewhere around maybe 630 or 7pm we decided to see what progress I had made. I had made it to 5cm but progressed to 75% effaced. I was only a tiny bit discouraged but remembered how I was only dilated to 3cm with Lucy for 20 hours of labor, so mentally turned off the negativity and went back to breathing. I was able to laugh and smile in between surges, something I could never do during Lucy’s labor because my body was constantly trying to right her malposition by giving me one surge on top of another, for hours on end. The rest in between surges was new to me and was incredibly refreshing, giving me a break to prepare for the next one. Also I was so insanely happy labor had finally started, so of COURSE I was all smiles!!

Sam, probably trying to talk me into a vasectomy. HA! /  Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Sam, probably trying to talk me into a vasectomy. HA! / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Mid-surge. You can see the belly tensed. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photoraphy

Mid-surge. You can see the belly tensed. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photoraphy

Checking baby’s heartbeat constantly. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Checking baby’s heartbeat constantly. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Resting between surges. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Resting between surges. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Lucy was home for the entire labor, and so my mother and father took turns playing with her in her room! Around 815pm it was time to say goodnight. Sam and I cried as he brought her in to give me my goodnight kiss; it was our last moment together as a family of 3 and that was a big, wonderful, overwhelming feeling. Also, labor hormones, amirite!?

Explaining that brother would be here to meet her in the morning! / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Explaining that brother would be here to meet her in the morning! / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Until that point, I had labored solely on my birthing ball. I remember how painful it was to walk through labor with Lucy and decided I was going to rest and breathe a lot more this time around. My doula, Lisa, encouraged me, when I was ready, to sit on the toilet and move through some surges that way. Since I know the “toilet surges” are a bit more intense (the position moves the baby down in a very effective way), I really had to get up the courage to welcome more intensity. It took about 15-20 minutes before I agreed and sat on the toilet for maybe 20 minutes. Although, my times may be skewed of course because I was in labor. (;

Lisa then asked me if I was ready to do some walking. Again… walking is another level up in intensity because you’re moving baby down with the movement of your hips and the help of gravity, so I had to get up the courage to do that, too… and I did.

Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Feeling very glamorous at this point with my bulging belly, cellulite and very cool diaper. (; And holding my  Cuddle + Kind Oliver bear  because I wanted something tangible to remind me that I would be holding my son in its place very soon. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Feeling very glamorous at this point with my bulging belly, cellulite and very cool diaper. (; And holding my Cuddle + Kind Oliver bear because I wanted something tangible to remind me that I would be holding my son in its place very soon. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Sam and I, and then my mom and I, walked down my hall into Oliver’s room where I labored in the dark.

Featuring: a photo most of you would never post! And my insanely cool Depends diaper. I had to wear a diaper since we broke my water and I was continually releasing fluid, and was way too overheated to put on pants! / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Featuring: a photo most of you would never post! And my insanely cool Depends diaper. I had to wear a diaper since we broke my water and I was continually releasing fluid, and was way too overheated to put on pants! / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

It didn’t take long for me to feel that oh-so-familiar “rectal pressure” that meant baby had descended significantly! My body was beginning to push on it’s own. My transition period overall lasted maybe 20 minutes total! This next picture is one of my absolute favorites… the look on my mom’s face as we all realize “it’s time” makes me want to sob… but then I see Sam’s hands behind me in celebration that we’re about to meet our son and I just crack up! Amazing moment captured, Ellice. Haha!!

I told my midwife, “If his head isn’t right there, then I don’t know what I’m feeling!” I jumped on the bed for a quick check, although my midwife was in and out in seconds. She did not confirm 10cm (completion) because she confirmed that his head was definitely right there! It was time to hop in the tub. But, as I walked out of my room, I had another very intense surge and thought for sure he was about to be born in my hallway! Thanks for helping me with censorship, husband! (;

My midwife quickly called for her assistant to bring all the items needed to basically have a baby on the floor. HAHA! I was a bit frazzled and didn’t even know what position to get in if his head was about to come out. Luckily… the surge passed and his head stayed put, and according to my friend and photographer, I hurried on over and jumped in the tub! The warm water greeted me like a hug and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was very comfortable for me to labor on my knees and I knew immediately this is how I wanted to birth. It’s a good thing I jumped in the tub when I did because he started to crown on my very next surge.

SO happy to have made it to the tub. So relaxing throughout the most intense moments of labor. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

SO happy to have made it to the tub. So relaxing throughout the most intense moments of labor. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Waiting for the next surge. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Waiting for the next surge. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Breathing up with the next surge. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Breathing up with the next surge. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Stages of crowning. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Stages of crowning. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

I did not “bear down” during the entire surge this time, like I did with Lucy. I breathed up with my surge, and as my body pushed on its own, I went with it, and did small “grunty” pushes with breathing in between. I believe NOT bearing down was the reason I did not tear. Oliver’s head peaked during one surge, then crowned halfway on the next surge, and on the third surge his head was completely out. It took one more surge for the rest of him to fully emerge.

Oliver Stone Ciurdar was born at 930pm in the water, weighing 9lbs. 14. oz and measuring 22.5” long. Pure, chunky, bliss.

Bliss. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

Bliss. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

Pure relief. / Photos by  Ellice Anne Photography

Pure relief. / Photos by Ellice Anne Photography

When Oliver first came out and for about a minute, he was quite limp and did not cry. I had seen births in videos where this happened and so I did not panic, but we waited anxiously for Kate to check his heartbeat and when she signaled all was well, we breathed a sigh of relief. If my midwife wasn’t worried, neither was I.

First cries. / Photo by  Ellice Anne Photography

First cries. / Photo by Ellice Anne Photography

About a minute or so later, he let out his first cry. No suction or stimulation needed.

I then delivered the placenta and crawled into my bed to be cleaned up. Daddy did skin to skin, and then we did!

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Rest, at last.

Yes… chunky baby!!!

Yes… chunky baby!!!

I continued to lose quite a bit of blood and began to feel very faint, which happened with Lucy, too. Luckily, my midwives had me drink a ton of orange juice with some pills they gave me to help me begin to clot and slow the bleeding. It took awhile for me to feel like I wasn’t going to pass out, but the pills really helped a lot.

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We guessed 8.5lbs… so imagine our surprise to find he was nearly 10lbs!

We guessed 8.5lbs… so imagine our surprise to find he was nearly 10lbs!

Oliver’s labor and delivery was 4 hours long from start to finish. What a difference from a 22 hour labor with a posterior baby for my first labor! I prayed and prayed for a redemptive labor this time around and I would not change one single thing. I thank God for working every intricate detail, including Lucy sleeping peacefully in bed by 830pm and Oliver being born at 930pm! It was absolutely perfect. Thank you Lord, for our miracle #2. He is more than we could have ever asked or imagined.

One day old.

One day old.

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Our entire world.

Our entire world.