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Penelope's Birth Story

Ok, here goes!

As previously mentioned in this blog, I had been having some regular contractions on Wednesday that slowed down a bit after going to bed. Thursday morning I woke up with contractions every 10 minutes apart, they were pretty strong (well, stronger than anything I had felt before) and I had a feeling that they weren't going to go away.

I talked to our midwives and described what I was feeling, they seemed to think that I would go into labor soon so I let my boss know that I wasn't going to be able to pick up the kids and Bryan and I decided to run some last-minute errands. We met my mom for lunch and at that point I was having contractions 7 minutes apart; went to the grocery store and contractions were now 5 minutes apart. After dinner they increased in intensity and frequency, coming 3-4 minutes apart and feeling much more powerful. We called the midwives and they headed over - shortly after they arrived my mom came over and then my grandma.

So the official start of "active" labor was about 6pm.

Once everyone was over we sat around in the living room and chatted, watched TV, and I tried to get comfortable in between contractions - which is pretty much impossible. I went back to the bedroom to try and get some sleep but was pretty much unsuccessful - although it was nice to rest a little. As the night progressed so did the intensity of my contractions. Bryan was with me during every contraction, rubbing my back, holding my hand, or just letting me lean on him while I was working my way through the contraction - he was wonderful. I thought I was handling them pretty well though - my midwives say I "sang" the baby out. No real yelling or screaming, but a lot of "oooooooooo" at different pitches. I was able to talk and even smile in between them for awhile, although as things progressed I pretty much kept my eyes closed and tried to remember to breathe!

At about midnight I got into the tub. They had it set up in our bedroom. It felt wonderful and at that point I felt like I could do this forever! Ha!


I was able to eat a little bit of a banana and drink some gatorade even though I was feeling a bit nauseous. I labored for awhile and things really started to pick up. Bryan fed me gatorade in between contractions to keep me hydrated and was rubbing my shoulders the entire time I labored. I would get the shakes at the end of my contractions - which I wasn't surprised by since my body tends to do that anyway when I'm in pain, but I think they freaked Bryan out a little.

After about an hour in the tub the midwives told me to "check" myself to see if I could feel her head - about two inches in I could! It was both weird and really neat (although that's in retrospect, at the time I was both excited that she was moving into the birth canal and frustrated that she wasn't further down). About a half an hour later, right after a contraction I said "you may want to get a bucket" and then promptly threw up over the side of the tub. And boy did I ever throw up. Yikes. Poor Bryan hates puke, but he swiftly and somewhat cheerfully held the bucket and then helped the midwives clean up the mess.

Shortly after that Marlene checked me since she though I might still have a bit of cervix left which is why she wasn't moving down more - and sure enough there was a tiny bit of cervix "lip" left preventing Penelope from moving further into the birth canal. So during the next two contractions she helped move it back and clear Penelope's head. OMFG - that was probably the worst part of the entire birth. It was... an experience.

Things went pretty quickly after that. She moved down and I could feel the head just inside of my birth canal. They brought over the mirror and a flashlight so Bryan and I could see the head as I pushed - it was surreal... She would come out a little, and then go back - stretching everything slowly (as nature intended) but it was super frustrating because at that point all I wanted was to be done! I was getting rather loud too - at various points I remember saying "I don't know how Scientologists have silent births" and "I'm surprised our neighbors haven't come over or called the cops to see if I'm still alive". It took a good dozen pushes to get her head out and boy did I ever "sing" her out then. I think I may have actually screamed. I honestly can't remember (although I do remember the sensation of pushing out her head - holy crap that hurt). In between pushes both Bryan and I were able to reach down and feel the top of her head (he was sitting on a stool outside of the tub). Even though it hurt, it wasn't as bad as when Marlene "helped" my cervix... in part because I could see her head come out and I knew that I was almost done.

Her head coming out was probably the most triumphant moment of my life. It felt so damn good. Two pushes later the rest of her shot out into the tub! That also felt wonderful... the cord was wrapped around her shoulders so Marlene untangled her and I lifted her out and onto my chest. At that point just about everyone was crying (Bryan claims he had a cold... or a selective eye allergy, but we all know he was crying!).


As soon as Bryan reached down to touch her she grabbed his finger and held on tightly. Her eyes were open the entire time and she just gazed at us both. She cried after about 30 seconds... she was perfect!

We tried breastfeeding in the tub, but we were both too slippery and I was starting to get a little cold, so with the placenta still in and the cord still attached the midwives transferred me over to the bed where Bryan lay next to us and we bonded with Penelope. A little while later, while still holding the baby, I delivered the placenta. After it stopped pulsing, the midwives gave Bryan the clamps and scissors and he clamped and cut the cord. We wrapped her up in some receiving blankets and Bryan and then my mom held her while the midwives examined me - I had two tears, one requiring 3 stitches and one requiring one stitch; and then one place where it didn't tear, but did need a stitch to keep the skin from tearing. So five stitches in all (not pleasant, but it could have been much, much worse).
I look so great here, don't I??

We tried breastfeeding again after that and I was having a hard time. It was painful, so I know that she wasn't quite latching on correctly. I was able to get her on eventually, but at that point I was so sore that it was hurt even when she was latching on. I powered through a full 24 hours of feeding - now it's gotten to the point where I cry when she feeds, so we've switched to formula for awhile to give my breasts a break. When our midwives come over in a few hours to check up on us I'll talk with them about what I'm doing wrong. I'm going to keep trying to breastfeed since it's what I want to do and what's best for her.

Anyway, she was born at 3:27am and weighed in at 7lbs, 15oz and is 20 3/4 inches long. The three of us fell asleep in our bed and got about 2 hours of sleep before I woke up again and moved to the living room since it's easier to feed her on the couch than in the bed. I'm super sore and swollen today, but happy. Very, very happy - we have a gorgeous and healthy daughter...


More about her first day later - and more pictures later, including her first bath!


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting. Assuming everything is going well, I would love to come up to see you guys in two weeks--let me know if that works out.
Dec. 6th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
Congratulations to you ALL! The whole family. You did a tremendous job and you're doing everything right! you keep trying the breast feeding, you know it's not easy but you're trying! Little Penelope is a lucky girl and she's beautiful!
Dec. 6th, 2008 10:23 pm (UTC)
That sounds like one amazing journey. I can't wait to meet her.
Dec. 7th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
what a beautiful baby!! i'm so proud of you!! :)

seriously, i cried while reading this. you are SUCH an inspiration. this just convinced me a thousandfold that i want to have an at-home water birth. :)
Dec. 7th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
Congrats! That's beautiful story. Can't wait to meet Penelope!
Dec. 7th, 2008 10:53 pm (UTC)
YAY!!!!! The Daniel/Reed Family send you all lovin'
Can't wait to meet her in person. (and welcome to the parenting club, it just keeps getting more surreal from here.)
Dec. 7th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
on your beautiful addition to the world. she looks precious and you two look stunning. many warm fuzzies headed your way!
Dec. 8th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
Ok so let me start with GREAT JOB!!! She is wonderful! It took us a good week of breast feeding to really get it down. Talk to a lactaction specialist and get it going. I would resist the urge for formula as at least for my Kiddo gave her the worst gas ever and made her miserable. I completely understand the sore thing but get a lactation person to talk to to get the Latch figured out. Once you do it is so easy. Let me know if you need anything! abby
Dec. 8th, 2008 05:56 am (UTC)
Yay! congratulations! You did a great job - enjoy that little bundle!
Dec. 8th, 2008 05:24 pm (UTC)
Congratulations!! I'm Windybug from BBC and just wanted to say I'm so proud of you for doing a homebirth. My homebirth experiences have been the best and your story brought tears of joy to my eyes. You have a very beautiful family. Stay strong w/the breastfeeding, it gets much much better. Many blessings to your family.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )