Isaiah’s Birth Story

Isaiah Orion Schulz

 Birth Story

A Blessing Way

                Our group of Mama’s planned a blessing way celebration at my house for the impending arrival of my and Amy’s baby.   Truman and I awoke on the morning of Aug. 31 ready to greet our friends who were due to arrive about 2 hours later.  I felt a little sluggish, but attributed it to the very stressful week we’d been having.  In fact, just two days earlier my midwife prescribed an hour-long lavender bath per day to help lower my blood pressure and to relax.    We made some final party preparations, set Enya to play on the stereo,  and then the doorbell began to ring.  Little did we know we had been preparing for more than just a party!

                We had a fun day, filled with great advice from other Mamas where we lit candles to be used during labor, pregnant bellies  were painted by Mamas and babies, we made beaded belly necklaces, and there was tons of yummy food.  After a full day of celebrating, people began drifting home.  It was a really special, heartfelt day and I am grateful to all the Mamas who came for what ended up being a true blessing way and send off for my birthing.  Most of the party debris and kiddie mess was picked up thanks to the Mamas, but there was still a lot to do.  It had been my habit to pick up from playdates immediately after, but I just couldn’t muster the energy that  day and lay down with Truman to nap.

                Unfortunately, Truman was the only one to sleep.  I could not fall asleep and began to feel nauseas, which I attributed to all the unusual (to me)  foods I’d had at the party.  When Brian came home that evening, he suggested that I needed a high-protein meal and I’d feel better.   Throughout the evening, I kept telling him, “I hope I don’t go into labor tonight.”  He kept saying, “don’t worry, stop saying that.”  I thought maybe I was playing mind games with myself—it was the first day of the 37th week of my pregnancy (or so I thought), which was the exact day I had gone into labor with Truman.  Looking back, I think my body was to trying to tell my brain to prepare, but I so did not want to have another “early” baby that I refused to get the message.

Labor Begins . . .

The high protein dinner  didn’t  help me feel much better, so I decided to try to go to bed early and get some rest.  About that time, we got a call from an old college friend who loves to talk, so Truman was running around wild while Brian was chatting it up on the phone with me trying to ignore the noise.  I came out of the bedroom and told my guys it was time for everybody to go to bed.   Finally, around 10, everyone was in bed, sleeping.   I was resting and fell occasionally into fitful sleep.   Around 11 or so, I started having gas pains, or so I thought and I definitely wasn’t sleeping any more.  About  11:40 I sat up in bed and realized with a shock that these “gas pains” were coming every 10 minutes.  To my credit, I had had some intense gas with this pregnancy, but never rhythmic gas.  I waited through another surge and then got up, telling Brian, “I’m pretty sure I’m in labor.”   We lay together for awhile, timing the surges to try to figure out what was happening.   At about 12:30, we left the bedroom to go make some phone calls.

We called my mom first since she had to travel via plane from Texas.  Then we called our midwife.  She asked me some basic questions—no the contractions didn’t seem to be getting stronger or closer together, no there wasn’t pressure on my bottom.  She suggested that it might be false labor and recommended taking a bath and an ounce of wine to see if they would stop so we could sleep.  She said if they did stop, baby would likely still be coming in 24-48 hours, but to call her back in an hour if we needed to.  The idea of getting some sleep was soo appealing because I was so tired from our long week that I really wanted to believe this was false labor.  BUT, I should have listened to that little voice in the back of my head that said, “You don’t do false labor.  You’ve never had a “false” contraction.  This is it.”  I should have told my midwife these thoughts too, but didn’t.

And Slows. . .

We went  back to our bathroom, drew a nice warm lavender bath and lit some candles.  Brian poured me a dab of wine from our 10-year anniversary Cabernet we’d received in Puerto Vallarta on vacation.  I was having regular surges  that were uncomfortable, but easy enough to work through with some gentle chanting of my birth affirmations and calming words from Brian.  After about an hour or so, things did seem to slow down.  I’d had some trouble with constipation, but after the bath I had a very easy, loose stool.  The little voice again said, “You know this is labor, your body is cleansing itself just like your labor with Truman.”  But I told myself it was just from the relaxation of the warm water. 

My surges had stopped, and we decided to try to lay down while my bit of wine might still help me relax to sleep.    Brian read me one of our hypnobirthing induction stories to further help me relax.  I sent him off to sleep and listened to my hypnobirthing  gentle surge relaxation CD.  By this time it was around 2:45 or so.  About 15 minutes later, my surges began again.  The first one was gentle, but by the second one I could no longer lie down.  I did some  slow tail swags on all fours and that seemed to help me feel more comfortable.  I had taken one Benadryl to try to sleep too, but that was having no effect, which was pretty odd since they usually totally knock me out.  At 3:30, I sat up, went to the bathroom and on the way back had to stop to work through another surge.   At this point, I told myself, “I’m going to have a baby today!”  The acknowledgement and acceptance helped me to relax and made me feel excited and powerful.  Brian and Truman were sleeping so soundly, I didn’t wish to wake them.   Plus, my surges were so mild I thought that I would probably be in labor through the day so it would be helpful if at least one of us was rested.   I thought about all the things I had learned about birth; how it was a normal process that could be experienced without intense pain IF I stayed calm and let my body do its job.  My mind returned to these thoughts throughout my birthing; what was great for me was that in the moment I did not doubt the truth of these notions (as I had feared I would) so that I stayed calm and relaxed through the rest of the process.

Laboring with Nature

I left the bedroom with the intention of phoning my midwife and doula, but somehow on the walk from there to the family room, forgot my purpose.  I sat in my rocker, watched a little Conan O’Brien (not much is on cable-free TV in the wee hours!) and had some more surges.  After a bit, the TV became too annoying and I clicked it off and enjoyed the view from my panoramic windows of the clear  night sky.  I had dreamt of laboring peacefully with nature, and now I had a perfect view of Orion’s starry  belt.  My surges were feeling a little more powerful now so I rose to sway with them.  I kept repeating three birthing affirmations, “Every surge is a wave, it always comes to shore,”  “My body knows how to birth my baby perfectly,” and simply, “surrender.”   Reminding myself that this was purposeful discomfort,  I became  lost in the beauty and perfection of my labor, swaying and chanting and enjoying the calm night.  In retrospect, I think this time alone, without even Brian for company, really helped me to birth efficiently.  I wanted to be the style of Native-American woman who could walk off alone into the woods and give birth, but never thought I could really do that.  Yet without any sort of audience I was free to turn totally inwards and fully surrender to the power of my birthing.  Being alone was empowering in and of itself.  After all, I knew Brian would have plenty of time to share the labor with me, and I felt confident and proud that I was doing this on my own a little so he could sleep. 

 At 4:40 or so, I began to feel some pressure on my bottom and awareness clicked my brain back on.  The little voice, now quite a bit louder, led me to wake Brian and tell him things were back on and in full swing.  At this point, my surges were feeling quite a bit more powerful, and I felt the urge to get back in the water.  Thankfully, I hadn’t drained the bath, so a warm tub was still waiting for me.  This was a good thing because we have a large-garden sized tub and it takes quite a while to fill, and we didn’t have quite a while!  Brian came in bleary-eyed and wanted to time some more contractions.  I agreed, because at this point I was still planning on sending Brian and Truman to his gymnastics class at 9:45 on what was now Saturday morning.  However, after another surge, I told Brian that he needed to call our midwife NOW and our doula too.  I think my forceful tone reinforced the point, so he left to do this, to give my mom an update, and to see when she would arrive.  My surges did feel more intense, but they did not feel painful to me like they did with Truman’s labor.  Because I was handling them well and did not experience them as painful but as doable pressure and discomfort,  I still felt I must have a long way to go. 

Part of me had doubted that I could really pull off the hypnobirthing birth, or that it would really work.  In addition to the hypnobirthing class and exercises, I had also taken a great pre-natal yoga class with Maria Carella (author of the “every surge is a wave. . .” affirmation and others), Birthing With Ease belly dancing classes, and water aerobics throughout my pregnancy.  I had even had a private session with Maria to create my own hypnosis labor CD.  We had met once to discuss my labor fears and were scheduled to meet again the next week to create the CD.  I had confessed to Maria that my biggest fears  were 1) to be transferred to hospital and 2) that I would not be able to handle the pain.   I think the combination of all this preparation really helped me.  Discussing my fears and learning some great birthing affirmations helped me prepare mentally.  Exercising, yoga, and learning the wonderful swaying motions of belly dancing helped me master the strenuous physical work of birthing.

The final hour?

So, back to the good stuff. . .it was by now close to 5 a.m.  I was reminding myself to “surrender” more frequently.  Brian was affirming me as well, saying, “Breathe the baby down,” and “You’re doing really good.”  I told him I really wished I had my birthing pool, so he left to go set it up.  I had another powerful surge, and found that getting on all fours and wagging my tail really helped.  A second really intense surge came and with it two equally powerful thoughts.  “Why did I EVER want to have another baby!  How nuts was that!”  Followed closely by, “I’m never going to be able to do this without drugs!”  Little did I know that that was the beginning and end of my 2-second transition.  In fact, I had just decided that it would be better if Brian and Truman didn’t go to his gym class.  Ha! 

In the next moment, I felt intense pressure on my perineum accompanied by a painful release of fluid.  My water was breaking, but not gentle and slow like with Truman’s labor, but fast and shooting out of  me into the tub as if I had a strong water power sprayer between my legs.  During the next few minutes, I experienced the only fear I’d have that morning.  I’d never heard of the water breaking being painful and so I wondered if something was wrong.  My birth chanting immediately switched to, “my baby is safe, my baby is safe” and “my body knows how to birth my baby” (quotes from my hypnobirthing instructor, Susan Martin).  Just saying this and concentrating my mind again on the normal process of birth got me through the fear and on to the work of birthing.  I knew then that the baby was coming right NOW.  Indeed, he had descended into the birth canal so quickly, that the force of the baby’s head burst the bag of fluids, causing the painful sensation.  I was in between a surge, so I began yelling for Brian, who was rooms away behind two separate closed doors.  I wanted his company and reassurance and felt he should call everyone again to tell them what was happening.  My yells woke Truman, who was sleeping in the next room.  He began to cry at first, wondering where his parents were, but when he heard me he came into the bathroom and began his morning routine of taking off his pants and going potty.  His presence calmed me; I needed to stay relaxed so that he wouldn’t get frightened.  I told him, “Our baby is coming today, right now.  Mommy is working very hard to help birth our baby.  Can you please go get Daddy out in the family room and tell him to come here?”

Truman saved the day.  Daddy was involved in getting the pool ready and told Truman to come help him instead.  Truman insisted that Daddy come back, that Mommy needed him and he did.  While they were gone, the pressure on my perineum changed—during a surge I felt my baby’s head pushing against my vagina and felt that if I just reached down I would feel the baby’s soft hair.  By this time, I was feeling an almost irresistible urge to push but was trying not to.  I wanted to slow things down enough to give our helpers a chance to arrive, but more so to minimize tearing.  I felt most comfortable laboring on all fours, wagging my tail.  Later, I learned that this was the best position in which to slow things down.  I didn’t know that intellectually at the time, but my body knew how to do it right.  I began to moan rhythmically, “oh oh oh oh,” in the deepest voice I could muster and remembered that my midwife had told me that panting like that would also help slow things down.  In between surges, I reminded Truman that everything was ok, that Mama was working very hard to get our baby out and was making funny sounds.  He started to talk about something and I explained that it was hard for Mama to talk right now.  He handled the rest of the labor with aplomb, remaining calm and watching everything, as I was sure he would.  He had also been prepared with books and videos and lots of long talks (including loud practice labor noises!) about what to expect. 

When my labor assistants (Daddy & Truman) had first returned to the bathroom I told Brian I was feeling incredible urges to push.  He looked at me a bit wildly, but called back our midwife.  By now I was feeling continual pressure on my bottom that lessened significantly, but didn’t go away between surges.  I had another surge, trying desperately not to push, but moaning and swaying the whole time.   This time, I did reach down and felt my baby’s head!  How incredible!  The image that came to mind was of a large peach pit,  attempting to burst through a half-open peach.    The feeling was similar too—I felt the hardness of the head against the softness of my flesh and new it would have to burst forth soon. 

When Brian called the midwife, she asked him to put in a finger to see if he could feel the baby’s head.  He did, and was able to stick in his finger up to almost the second knuckle.   I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but I did hear a little bit of excited fear enter his voice.  I wanted to reassure him of what I knew that all things were fine, but there just wasn’t time.  My midwife was reassuring him on the phone, however and had just told him that the baby was going to be coming in a few minutes, which I already knew.  What I did hear was his end where he was repeating her instructions, “mmhmm, watch the cord, turn the shoulders,  ok, gently guide the body.”  I thought to myself, “Oh, I’m too tired to do all that.”  In the next instant, I could hold back the powerful urge no more, and gave in to the sensation to push.   I didn’t push hard or strenuously or really even push in the traditional sense; I just let go and let my body do the work.  I felt a popping sensation like sticking your thumb in a pop bottle and quickly pulling it out, followed by a  wonderful release.  Then I heard a small splashing sound as my baby’s head, and then the whole body came through my body and landed in the water below.  I felt shocked that the baby had just come totally out in my one and only “push.”  I told Brian, “The baby, the baby!” and he scooped him out of the tub.  I lay down in the water and Brian gave the baby to me; I saw a flash of testicles—and registered that we had a new baby boy! 

He looked so small to me, compared to Truman he was teeny.  His smooth silky skin was coated in creamy vernix; his eyes were closed and he was purple.  I had a flash of concern-do we call 911?  But no, his nostrils were flaring, his hands were moving, and he was starting to pink up.  Brian was in deep conversation, trying to conduct an APGAR test over the phone and getting reassurance from the midwife that all was ok.  Truman was smiling brightly.  Pictures of me taken at this time reveal someone who looks a lot like a deer stuck in the headlights—everything had happened so quickly—only about 42 minutes of intense labor and just over 2 hours since we thought labor had slowed and stopped that my brain hadn’t had time to think about what happened.  My body did what it needed to do.   I just sat and stared at my beautiful baby who was resting peacefully in my arms.

Brian was eager for help to arrive to ensure that all was good, and soon after our doula/ midwife came.  She took one look at the baby asleep in my arms and said he looked wonderful and another look at the coppery color of the water and knew my bleeding was normal too.  Our midwife’s apprentice arrived next, followed shortly by our midwife who had to travel over 2 hours (made in record time!) to our house.  She came to my side and asked how I was, “Surprised!”  I said.  I couldn’t believe we had just given birth!  But there was a little baby waiting to nurse who was a 9 or 10 on his APGAR and weighed in at 6 pounds 3 ounces and 19 ½ inches. 

We had been working with 2 due dates—one based on conception and one on date of cycle that were roughly a week apart.  Based on the midwife’s examination of the baby and his reflexes, she estimated that I was actually at 38 weeks.  He was wonderfully healthy and pink and had cried just the tiniest bit.  My examination showed just a dab of tearing but nothing that required a stitch.  I was elated, proud, exhausted, but mostly shell-shocked. 

We celebrated by ordering Chinese and resting with our little one.  Our helpers left us to bond as a family and told us they would return soon.  About an hour later my mom and sister arrived to see us.  It took us a week, but we named him Isaiah Orion; his middle name after the constellation that had been my starry companion.  It was so wonderful not to have to go anywhere, or be anywhere or have anything done to me or my baby.  It was fantastic to have only the people I wanted there (or at least, eventually there!).   What a great introduction to the world for Isaiah– it was all peaceful and calm.  There was no separation, no bright lights, no procedures (and no car seats until his first doctor’s appointment nearly two weeks later!).  Being at home enabled my labor to progress smoothly and naturally.  The lack of outside interference was crucial to the ease of it.  When I look at Isaiah, I feel so proud—we created him—I grew him inside me and I gave birth to him, unassisted!

Someone once asked me during this pregnancy if I would ever consider birthing unassisted (meaning without professional labor attendants); I responded immediately that I wouldn’t want to put that kind of stress and pressure on my husband!  I am happy to say that Brian rose to the challenge beautifully.  He was an ideal companion both through the very early part of labor and again at the crucial time.  I am grateful for his support of natural birthing and homebirth; I really felt we were a team throughout the process.   And what great bragging rights!  He “caught” his second baby all by himself! 

Afterwards, I had many discussions with my midwives about how I could have been mistaken about the speed and progression of my labor.  What I come back to is the intense calm and comfort I felt throughout the night coupled with the privilege of being at home—I never felt frantic like with my first birth.   I also remembered that typical hypnobirthing moms do not realize how far along they are(!)  and have very short average birthings (under five hours).   I hope my future births, if there are some, are all at home and go so well–albeit with the eventual company of the midwife.  Next time, I’ll call sooner!                                    

 

Responses

  1. This birth reminds me so much of my birth with my second child! He was born within 12 hours of my blessingway, a VERY fast labor (my midwife walked in as he was crowning), using the all-fours position to instinctively try to slow things down.

    Congratulations on your beautiful birth!

    (My birth with my first child was frantic; my birth with my third was the most peaceful and beautiful experience of my life.)

  2. Thank you! I hope we get a 3rd as you describe as well!

  3. What a wonderful birth story!

  4. Thanks Molly!


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