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The Arrival of Skylar Joyce - Home Water Birth - October 16, 2007

Skylar Joyce – Home Water Birth – October 16, 2007

I woke up that morning on Monday, October 15th and got ready for work. I remember feeling a little “crampy” when I saw my first two patients that morning. But that feeling went away by noon, and I had another patient scheduled. I was feeling just fine, and was a little disappointed that the cramping went away. It was around 1:30 when I went home for lunch. My next patient was scheduled at 4:30. I had been tired the last week or so, and took the opportunity to take a short nap. I stopped at Target on the way back to work to get a congrats card and a gift certificate for my friend Heather, who had her baby October 7th. I spoke with my brother on my way back to the office, assuring him there was no sign of the baby yet. I was disappointed, being six days overdue.

I walked into work, and was greeted by Lisa, the physical therapist, who expressed her own disappointment that I was back (everyone expected the baby!). I walked into my office and instantly felt wetness in my pants. I knew exactly what it was! I ran to the bathroom, and sat there as my water ran out. I didn’t know what to do! After sitting there for a few minutes, with an excited smile on my face, I decided to just soak my pants because I was going home! There weren’t any pads or towels around for me to use. I walked out of the bathroom and told Fred (the receptionist) to take care of my patients, because my water broke! Everyone in the clinic was so excited! Crystal, the physical therapy assistant, got me some towels to sit on in my car, and she insisted that she follow me home.

Crystal came up to my apartment and sat with me for about an hour and a half. We took pictures and some video and were very excited! My sister Roxie called and I let her know the good news. I also called my sister Rachel, brother Jason, and sister Rana. I was so excited to tell Rana that the baby would probably share her birthday! The baby just had to wait until after midnight! I had three contractions when Crystal was with me, but they picked up very quickly by 6pm. I called my midwife, my doula, the friends who would be attending my birth, and my Auntie Chanel. Crystal returned to work, but came back afterward, and brought Dr. Edlund, my chiropractor and friend, around 7:30. Crystal went to the train station to pick up Auntie Chanel a little after 8pm. All of us stayed up chatting. I was handling the birth waves while sitting on a birth ball, they were mild, and coming every 7-10 minutes. We all agreed it would be good for me to get my sleep, so Crystal and Dr. Edlund left around 11:00.

I told Auntie Chanel to rest in my bedroom and I would lay on the couch and try to sleep. My doula was going to try to get some sleep herself, before coming over. I felt like I needed someone with me, so I phoned my friend Kim Binford. She arrived shortly after midnight. She helped time my contractions as we laid down—her on the loveseat and I on the couch. I wasn’t able to sleep between the contractions, as they began occurring every 5 minutes. I was getting uncomfortable and called Lindsey. She arrived around 2am. My contractions felt less intense when I was upright, either standing or on the birth ball. But I was also in need of rest. So Lindsey suggested I lay down, and when a birth wave came, stand up. So I did—getting tiny cat naps between standing and swaying through the contractions. That eventually became too much, as getting up so quickly seemed to increase the intensity. I sat on the birth ball and leaned onto a high stack of pillows so I was more upright, and when a contraction came, I just sat up and swayed my hips on the ball. I felt the contractions in the front, a pressure-like sensation as if someone was squeezing and holding, and then releasing. I was able to breathe through them by taking a long, slow cleansing breath, then breathing slowly in through my nose and letting it out slowly through my mouth, and when it was over, a long breath in and out to “blow it away.” I pictured “breathing my baby down” and visualizing my cervix opening like a flower. I didn’t have any back pain, and both Kim and Lindsey had done some counter pressure and massage on my lower back, but I didn’t seem to care for it.

Lindsey called the film crew around 6am, as my birth waves were regularly 5 minutes apart. We didn’t want them to miss the birth! They arrived around 7:30am. I figured they would go for breakfast, but they stayed. Lindsey took me on a walk around the apartment complex. It was a beautiful day, and we stopped when birth waves occurred. I put my arms around her shoulders, and we would sway back and forth as I breathed slowly through the contractions. After over an hour walking, I wanted to get off my feet, and the birth waves were certainly uncomfortable. I just remember saying “I didn’t like that one” after particularly tough ones. I decided to try the birth tub. It felt amazing! I had put on my swimsuit and floated in the pool, breathing through contractions. Unfortunately, this seemed to slow the birth waves, and Lindsey suggested more walking. I said I didn’t want to, but knew it was best. I got out, toweled off, grabbed my water bottle, and we started another round of walking. Lorri, my midwife, and Cheryl, the birth assistant, arrived around noon. They began preparing the “maternity ward,” getting everything set up and making sure they had everything.

I went into the birth tub again. I remember it was around noon. I started thinking people were playing tricks on me because I kept looking at the clock and it said 12:15. Then it said 12:15 sometime later. And after that I swear it still said 12:15. When I asked what time it really was, I was told it was 12:15. I still didn’t believe them, so I asked for my cell phone, and sure enough, it was 12:15! How odd! I was so deep into “labor land” that I was in a time warp. Again, my contractions slowed, and Lindsey once again insisted we go for a walk. The birth waves picked up again, and some were lasting as long as 90 seconds! Some were as short as 20 seconds. I felt no pain or pressure in between the birth waves, and took those opportunities to relax. I did feel everything still in the front, the “grip” pressure in the very, very low abdominal area, and almost a pinch like feeling when the birth waves peaked. I wanted to feel rectal pressure, but never felt any.

Lorri my midwife had ordered me to drink a lot of fluids, so Lindsey made sure I was drinking a lot of water and apple juice. Because my water had broken, Lorri was very non-invasive and did not do any vaginal exams until much later. I had an extremely “wet” labor—often having spurts of water flow with each step, or having slow leakage. I labored with overnight pads in my panties, and had to change them frequently. I remembered from my Bradley classes—”hydrate, ambulate, urinate”—and did that faithfully. I hated to use the bathroom, because when I would sit on the toilet, I would always get a birth wave, then try to urinate, and I was shaking uncontrollably. The shakes had started in early labor, and were “hormonal shakes” because I wasn’t cold. It was an odd phenomenon. So I tried to sit and pee super fast to get off before a birth wave, which didn’t always work!

Finally at 4pm, exactly 24 hours after my water had broken, Lorrie checked my cervix. She said I was dilated to a 4. I remember feeling great about it—because my Bradley instructor had always said that it was the hardest to get to a four—and once you were there, you only had six more to go! Lorrie could tell the baby was not in a good position, so she tried to move the baby’s head, but was unable to. The baby would not budge. After the check, I was kneeling on the bed, and Lorrie got very serious. She said she would like to have me go to the hospital to get some help with my contractions—by getting pitocin. This suggestion was so surprising to me, and so out of the blue. She reasoned that I was tired, and my contractions were getting less strong, and starting to get farther apart. My water had been broken for 24hours, and the risk of infection was increasing. She also said that 24hours after my water had broken, I should be in active labor. With the decreasing contractions and only being at 4cm, she felt it was time to go. With the suggestion, the vision of sleeping with my baby that night in my arms, in my bed, in my home vanished. I pictured a hospital bed, along with everything I wanted to avoid. I calmly replied that I would not go the hospital. I was not in distress (sure I was tired, but I didn’t feel exhausted, and I had not expressed that I needed or wanted to quit). My temperature had remained stable, and the baby’s heart rate was always in an excellent range. I wasn’t in distress, and baby wasn’t in distress. My mind ran away with the thought of going to the hospital. I said if I went to the hospital, I knew I would come out with a c-section. If they gave me pitocin, laid me on my back, and baby was still in the wrong position, I wouldn’t dilate. Then I would need an epidural for the pitocin induced contractions, baby wouldn’t handle them, and her heart rate would go down, and they would take her by c-section.

I said I knew my body—and I was made to have a baby. I said we fit perfectly together. I also expressed my thoughts that all of this was just a consideration about time. I asked if I could please have some more time. Lorrie agreed that the baby and I fit together very well—my pelvis was wide enough, and the baby was certainly not too big. So she suggested a compromise. She wanted me to get some rest because I was so tired—laboring 24 hours with very little sleep. She wanted to slow down and decrease the intensity of the contractions by flushing and hydrating my body with IV fluids. She would also give me an antibiotic in the IV to decrease the risk of infection. After a couple hours, I could labor some more, and she would then check me. I agreed to this.

I was able to lay on my side and sleep. I remember being in and out because although milder, I was still having birth waves. I noticed Cheryl, the birth assistant, was in the room with me. Everyone else was out in the kitchen and living room. This was the only time I noticed Lindsey wasn’t at my side. I got up around 6pm, feeling like I had more energy. I went out and began to labor on the birth ball. Little did I know that Lorrie had been on the phone with her midwife colleagues, and started putting together every possible idea to stimulate my contractions and reposition the baby.

It was suggested I labor while lunging with my left leg on the couch to help move the baby. An acupuncturist arrived and did a full “induction” treatment. I had needles in my ears, hands, ankles, and sacrum. I was given homeopathics, and several liquid herbal remedies. I was so eager to get things going that I gladly did everything! They brought me a smoothie with castor oil, to get my bowels to be active, which would stimulate my cervix to produce prostaglandins and increase my oxytocin production. All of this worked very well, as my contractions quickly picked up and became regular again.

After laboring like this for awhile, I started getting tired again, and the “life” started to go out. I was in the bedroom, in the knee chest position through birth waves, when, for the first time—I questioned whether or not I could do it. I was looking back at how long I had been laboring, and I couldn’t see an end anytime soon. I contemplated my options—I said to Lindsey that I didn’t know what to do. She looked me in the eyes and said “you’re having this baby.” I said maybe I need some pain medication, and she smiled and said I didn’t need any. I turned to my friend Karen and said I needed help. She asked how she could help. I said perhaps I needed an assist or a locational, because I didn’t feel like I was in “present time.”

Just then, Dr. Edlund, my chiropractor showed up. I was very glad to see her! She brought a “thumper” massager with her, and Lorrie suggested I be in the knee chest position while she massaged my back. I was not having any back pain, and didn’t have any back discomfort throughout the entire labor. But when she ran the massager on my back, it was wonderful! It felt so incredible, so Dr. Edlund ran it on my lower back for 10-15 minutes. She then manually adjusted my lower back, used an adjusting tool on my thoracic spine, and then adjusted my neck. When she was finished, I felt rejuvenated! I felt like someone had turned the lights back on. The color returned to my cheeks and I felt great. Dr. Edlund left, and Lorrie wanted to check me.

As Lorrie was checking my cervix, I watched her face for any reaction—and it was like heaven washed over her. She said “Oh, this is good! We’ve got 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-plus! We’re having a baby!” I smiled and inside thought “of course!” I knew it was going to work out! Lorrie then had me return to the knee chest position, and she was then easily able to lift the baby’s head and turn her.

Lorrie shared the good news with everyone waiting out in the kitchen. I wanted to continue my labor in the birth tub, so everyone sprang into action to get the water warm. The water out of the hose was not very hot, so pots of boiling water sprang up on the stove. They quickly got it to the right temperature. While they were filling the tub, I all of a sudden felt like I had to throw up. I asked Karen to get me a bowl, and she quickly grabbed one of the pots and I threw up my smoothie! I don’t know why that happened. I guess it was just part of the process! Once I was in the tub (which felt amazing!), I continued breathing through the contractions. Breathing the baby down, and continuing with my visualizations. I asked Lorrie when I would know when it was time to push—and she said there would be no mistaking it-that it was like throwing up in reverse. Like a reflex.

We all began to relax and just wait, when all of a sudden I had an enormous, gripping, powerful contraction. It was so intense, abrupt, and unexpected that I cried out “oh my god I have to push!” I threw my arms around my doula and hugged her hard as I felt two more strong contractions. These contractions pushed the baby into my birth canal and her head crowned. No sooner had this occurred then everything was quiet. I let go of Lindsey and turned around to float in the pool. I laughed and said “what was that?!” “That was intense!” Everyone laughed with me.

Lorrie and the birth assistant, Cheryl, told me to see the baby’s head crowning in the mirror, and to touch her head. Her head felt so warm, and although it was hard, I just thought it was part of me! We waited for the next contraction. I was very relaxed. It was so amazing to me that I was feeling no pain, no pressure, and was very peaceful and comfortable. I thought it was ridiculous how long we were waiting between contractions—because I was ready to push her out! Finally another birth wave came over, and I was able to see her head even more. I didn’t feel like I was being very productive floating on my back, so I got onto my knees and leaned forward in the birth tub. Again—there was a lot of time between contractions. I finally said to Lorrie that the birth waves weren’t coming. I decided to bear down myself, and it seemed to trigger some reflexive help very low, but no uterine contractions. I told Lorrie I didn’t have any help, and she said it was okay—just push when I felt I needed to. I tightened my abdominals, and bared down—Lorrie said the head was so close to being out. I felt like I was trying to push concrete out of my body! Her head was so hard!

Without being able to see my progress, I just envisioned my sister, Rachel, who has had two children. I told myself that if she could do it, so could I! So I pushed three times in a row—during which I felt some burning in the front—and Lorrie helped protect the area with her fingers. She said “the head is out!” I then switched positions to floating on my back again so I could see the birth of my daughter. I gave a little push and her shoulders came through. Lorrie then said, “reach down and hold your baby!” I put my hands under her shoulders and gave two more little pushes—and lifted my precious baby girl up onto my chest.

She immediately began crying. She was very loud, and cried and cried and cried. I kept saying “hello baby—my baby” –trying to comfort her. She continued to cry and holler for the next hour! I held her as I got out of the tub to lie on the couch for delivery of the placenta. Because my uterus had quit contracting, I began to lose a lot of blood. Lorrie had to work on me, doing everything she needed to in order to stop the bleeding, which she was able to do quickly. Lindsey was helping baby Skylar to latch on to stimulate some contractions, as well. I had Auntie Chanel cut the cord. Amazingly, I didn’t tear or need any stitches!

Baby Skylar weighed 8.0 lbs, and was 19 ½ inches long, arriving at 10:56pm on October 16th, 2007. She was beautiful—ten fingers, ten toes, and the roundest, most perfectly shaped head I had ever seen on a newborn. She quieted down, and searched around with her deep blue eyes, nursing with her ruby red lips. As I adored my newborn, everyone scurried around, cleaning everything up and packing up the supplies to go home.

I got my wish—and that was to sleep with her beside me—in my bed, in my home—the way nature intended it to be.
I truly had the birth that I had envisioned and dreamed about.
Birth is an incredible, amazing, miraculous event.

It took a village to help me birth my child,
and to each and every person on my birth team,
I am truly thankful.




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