Home Birth

A Home Birth Story: The Birth of Alaina Diana Remer

January 19, 2011
11:15 a.m.
7lbs, 8oz; 20 inches

By Molly Remer

©Portraits & Paws Photography

It was a full moon, and I spent a restless, up and down night, getting up at 3:00 a.m. and even checking in with the college class I teach online. My husband Mark got up with me and we talked and speculated. Waves were four minutes apart and then kind of dissipated unenthusiastically away. He went back to bed at 4:00 and I listened to Hypnobabies. At 6:00, I was feeling trapped lying down and got up. Mark got up then too and worked in the kitchen on the dishes and things like that, while I walked around and leaned on the half wall during contractions (it was the perfect height). Sitting down in a chair caused horribleness, leaning forward on the half wall was good. I called my mom and told her to be on standby and to notify my blessingway mamas and also called Summer (doula/friend) to be on alert. I was having back involvement with each wave. I felt like I would have a real contraction and then a closely following, but milder, back-only contraction (no tightness in uterus really during these, but definitely a wave-like progression and then ease of sensation).

I was very quiet during most waves until the end of labor. I think because I was using Hypnobabies and was concentrating on that. Then, I would talk and analyze and be very normal in between. This pattern seemed to lead to a decreased perception of seriousness from others of my need for attention—Mark washed dishes, went outside to take care of chickens, work on fire, feed cats and so forth. My two boys woke up at 7:00 a.m. and as soon as they came out and started talking to me, I knew they needed to go elsewhere. We called my mom at 7:30 and she came to get them. I did not want to feel watched or observed at all, so asked her to wait to come back.

I kept waiting for the “action” to increase and feeling distressed that it was taking such a “long” time. I suggested to the baby that she come out by 10:00. I continued to stand in the kitchen and lean on the half wall, sometimes the table or the bathroom counter. I was dismayed to see no blood or mucous, nothing indicating any “progress.” Significant feelings of pressure and pain in lower back continued and at the time felt normal to me, but looking back seems like an extra dose of back involvement. In another intensity-increasing experience, the baby moved during contractions for the entire labor until the contraction before I pushed her out. She moved, wiggled and pushed out with her bottom and body during each contraction, which really added a new layer of intensity that was difficult. I was, however, glad she was moving because then I knew she was okay, without doing any heart checks.

I went into the living room, very tired from bad sleep during the night. We set up the birth ball in the living room so I could sit on it and drape over pillows piled onto the couch. I spent a long time like this. Mark sat close and would lightly and perfectly stroke my back. Continued to use Hypnobabies—finger-drop, peace and release, with most waves.

Mark fixed me chlorophyll to drink and I threw it up immediately. Called Mom to come back at 9:00 or so, at which point I finally had a little bloody show. Kept up my ball by the couch routine and moved into humming with each wave. I also worked with some contractions on the floor leaning over the ball.

On the ball, I began to feel some rectal pressure with each wave. However, I felt like the waves were erratic still, with some very long and intense and then smaller ones. Hums began to become oooohs and aaaaahs and I began to feel like there was a bit of an umph at the end of the oooooh. Went back to the bathroom and there was quite a bit more bloody mucous and I started to fret about placental abruptions and so forth. Left the bathroom analyzing how much blood is too much blood and began to critique myself for being too “in my head” and analytical and not letting my “monkey do it.” Said I still didn’t feel like I was in “birth brain” and wondered if that meant I still had a long time to go. I started to feel concerned that I was still early on. This is a common feature of all of my births and is how the self-doubt signpost manifests for me. Rather than thinking I can’t do it, I start thinking I’m two centimeters dilated.

I almost immediately returned to the bathroom feeling like I needed to use the toilet. Serious contractions on toilet produced more pressure with associated umphs at the end. At some point in the bathroom, I said, “I think this is pushing.” I was feeling desperate for my water to break. It felt like it was in the way and holding things up. I reached my hand down and thought I felt squooshy sac-ish feeling, but Mom and Mark looked and could not see anything. And, it still didn’t break. Mom mentioned that I should probably go to my birth nest in order to avoid having the baby on the toilet. My birth nest was a futon stack near the bathroom door. I got down on hands and knees after feeling like I might not make it all the way to the futons. I felt like I wanted to kneel on hard floor before reaching the nest.

At this point, I suddenly became obsessed with checking her heartbeat. I knew you’re supposed to do so during pushing and I had stopped feeling her moving painfully with each contraction. I couldn’t find her heartbeat and started to feel a little panicky about that as well as really uncomfortable and then threw the Doppler to the side saying, “forget it!” because big pushing was coming. I was down on hands and knees and then moved partially up on one hand in order to put my other hand down to feel what was happening. Could feel squishiness and water finally broke (not much, just a small trickle before her head). I could feel her head with my fingers and began to feel familiar sensation of front-burning. I said, “stretchy, stretchy, stretchy, stretchy,” the phone rang, her head pushed and pushed itself down as I continued to support myself with my hand and I moved up onto my knees, with them spread apart so I was almost sitting on my heels and her whole body and a whole bunch of fluid bloodshed out into my hands. She was pink and warm and slippery and crying instantly—quite a lot of crying, actually. I said, “you’re alive, you’re alive! I did it! There’s nothing wrong with me!” and I kissed her and cried and laughed and was amazed. I felt an intense feeling of relief. Of survival. I didn’t realize until some moments later that both Mark and Mom missed the actual moment of her birth. Mark because he was coming around from behind me to the front of me when I moved up to kneeling. My mom because she went to stop the phone from ringing. I had felt like the pushing went on for a “long” time, but Mark said that from hands and knees to kneeling with baby in my hands was about 12 seconds. I don’t know. With birth, the inner experience is different than outer observation. What I do know is that the moment of catching my own daughter in my hands and bringing her warm, fresh body up into my arms was the most powerful and potent moment of my life.

©Sincerely Yours Photography

I feel the moment of her birth was an authentic “fetal ejection reflex” including the forward movement of my hips. The immediate postpartum went exactly as I had planned. Summer arrived approximately 20 minutes after Alaina was born. She brought me snacks, wiped blood off of me, and served me a tiny bit of placenta (which I swallowed with no problem!). My midwife arrived approximately 40 minutes post-birth and assessed blood loss and helped with placenta. She said I lost about 3 cups of blood, but I think all of the fluid that came out with the baby, plus the blood from the tears, may have bumped the estimate up too high. I did not feel weak or tired like I’d lost too much blood, I felt energetic and really good, actually. I didn’t get faint in the bathroom either and my color stayed good throughout that day and into the next days postpartum.

My post-birth feelings were different this time. I feel more baby-centered in my feelings about it rather than self-empowerment centered. I also feel more critical in my own self assessment this time—like I didn’t “perform” well or handle myself well. I hypothesize that this may be related to using a hypnosis for birth program, because I didn’t feel “calm and comfortable” on the inside. On the outside I think I looked it, but my internal experience involved more “should” than I like. The hypnosis philosophy wasn’t really a match with my own lived experience of birth. Birth isn’t calm, quiet, and comfortable and I don’t actually think it should be or that I want it to be. However, I was trying to make it so and thus not using some of my own internal resources. I felt more mind/body disconnect than I have before also, perhaps because I was trying to use a mind (“control”) based method on such an embodied process.

When she was three days old, I wrote this in my journal:
She is so wonderful and amazing and beautiful and perfect and I just want to etch these days into my mind forever and never forget a single, precious, beautiful, irreplaceable moment. I want to write everything down to try to preserve each second of these first few days with baby Alaina—my treasure, my BABY! The one I hoped for and feared for and worked SO HARD to bring to this world (in pregnancy more so than in birth).
What do I want to remember?

  • The scrunchy feel of a newborn’s body.
  • The little mewing squeaks and sighs
  • How she is comforted by my voice and turns to me with a smacky, nursie face…
  • The soft, soft skin
  • The soft, soft hair
  • The fuzzy ears and arms
  • The little legs that pull up into reflexive, fetal position.
  • The utter, utter, MARVEL that I grew her and that she’s here. That she came from me. That sense of magic and wonder and disbelief when I look over and see her lying next to me—how did YOU get here?!
  • The miraculous transition from belly to baby. From pregnant woman to motherbaby unit. How does it happen? It is indescribably awesome.
  • The sleeping profile
  • The scrunchy face
  • The “wheeling” half coordinated movements of arms and legs—sort of “swimming” in air.
  • The peace of snuggling her against my chest and neck.
  • The tiny, skinny feet.
  • Putting my hand on her back and feeling her breathe, just like in utero

I was still scared she was going to die until the moment I held her.
Molly Remer, MSW, ICCE is a certified birth educator, writer, and activist. She is a professor of human services, an LLL Leader, and editor of the Friends of Missouri Midwives newsletter. She has two living sons and an infant daughter and blogs about birth at http://talkbirth.wordpress.com

Supporting Midwives & Homebirths

One of the main missions of Mama Goddess Birth Shop is to support professionals who are dedicating their lives to helping women get ready for and give birth, as well as support them postpartum.

Being a store that sells birth supplies, the best way we can do so is by providing them with the essential items needed during birth.  We set up a whole product page for a midwife/midwifery clinic, so that all a client has to do is visit that page and buy the kit.  As a token of our appreciation to both the clients and the midwives, we have recently set a 5% discount on the kit plus a 5% thank-you commission for the midwives.  The customers save, and the midwives get something out of using our services, too 🙂

Providing custom birth kits is such a wonderful way for us to stay in touch with the beautiful advocates for natural birth, the mothers of all mothers, who are our midwives, doulas and childbirth/postpartum professionals.

Until my sister was pregnant and preparing to give birth at home, I had no idea that home births required so many little items!

My first exposure to home birth was watching the beautiful DVD, Birth Day, in my Child Psychology class during my university training as a music therapist (yes, I had a professor so awesome that he showed us that DVD in class on the topic of child birth. More on this another time!).  But that DVD doesn’t show all the little items that is necessary during birth – especially because being a midwife herself, her birth is not assisted by people other than her family, and she gets to give birth in her own deep tub at her beautiful country home in Mexico.

Anyway, when my sister’s midwives gave her the list of items she needed to purchase, I remember it being quite overwhelming and also exciting, like a first-time camper with her shopping list of camping items.

For those of you who haven’t had the experience yet to know what is in a home birth kit, here’s just an example of what might be included:

  • 24 blue under pads
  • 12 maternity pads
  • 3 mesh panties
  • 2 waterproof sheets
  • 6 4×4 Gauze
  • 1 peri bottle
  • 4 paper covered straws
  • 4 Emergen-C
  • 2 1-lb packages of epsom salts
  • 1 bottle hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 bottle witch hazel
  • 3 alcohol swabs
  • 1 paper tape measure
  • 1 large ziploc bag
  • 2 large garbage bags
  • 1 newborn baby hat
  • 1 umbilical cord clamp
  • 1 bulb syringe

On top of this, if you’re having a water birth, then you would want to prepare the hose, a floating thermometer, debris net, tarps, etc. and of course, the pool itself, whether you’re renting or buying, or your midwives are bringing them.  (For more information on water birth supplies, check out our article here.)  Contact us if you want to know what specific items are used for, or if you have general questions about birthing.

Each midwife has her own specific needs and styles, so that’s why a custom birth kit is an essential part of a midwifery practice.  If you are with a midwife, it would be wonderful if you could let them know that we are here and willing to support them as fellow advocates of homebirth.

We are happy to announce that the newest addition to our Custom Birth Kits is the Freedom and the Seed Birth Kit!  Freedom and the Seed is a midwifery clinic in Tempe, Arizona.  To find out more about their wonderful practice, please click here.  We look forward to serving them and their clients, as well as all of our midwives.

We believe midwifery is one of the most important jobs in the world – and would like to take this opportunity to send our deepest gratitude and love to all midwives out there, many of whom are probably assisting a woman in labor as we speak.

At Mama Goddess Birth Shop, we create custom birth kits for qualifying birth care providers, including midwives, doulas, naturopathic doctors, childbirth educators, lactation consultants, physicians, nurses, clinics, wellness centers, and more.  We value the availability of access to all birthing choices for all women, by providing a one-stop place with high professional quality birthing and postpartum items for families and birth professionals. The custom kits provide a 5% discount off the retail pricing, for your clients’ convenience. For every birth kit purchased, you will be receiving a 5% commission.  We will also promote your services on our website, free of charge.  We strive to create a positive environment for the valuable work that childbirth professionals do, and we hope to be a nurturing place for everyone involved.  For care providers interested in creating a custom birth kit with us, please e-mail us or call us at 1-888-588-7417 x 2 with your name or business name, and we will send you a detailed order form.  Please let us know if we can answer any questions.  Thank you!