The Birth of Ella Eliza Faris - My Birth Experience

Alright folks, more than a year later I am just getting to this post. I hope you enjoy and please note that there are photos, nothing graphic but if you think you will be offended then stop reading now.



It was not the easiest year. My pregnancy was quite tough for nearly 6 months which was hard on everyone. The changes around here were immediate, sharp and stinging for the most part. I could no longer nurse Aida which was hard on both of us. At that point we were only nursing once or twice a day, but it was a huge source of comfort for Aida and took her a long while to adjust. I felt badly and that was only the beginning of the guilty feelings to come. Because I was so sick, I spent many days in bed and away from everyone else. It was tough on me, Aida and Curran. He had to absorb all the responsibilities and Aida basically lost her mom for an extended period. It sucked big time. BUT... I got better and things got easier. The rest of my pregnancy was wonderful and Aida was nothing but excited for the new family member (she named "Bean") to arrive.

All I really have to say about my birth experience was that it was amazing. Truly amazing. I am not a brilliant poet when it comes to writing or verbal expression so I will never be able to put into words how beautiful this experience was for me, but then again it doesn't really matter. I know, my baby knows and so does my husband (to some extent). Other than that, all I can say is trust me, it was perfect.

One extremely important and absolutely priceless decision I  made was to use hypnobirthing during this labour and birth. One of my doula partners taught the hypnobirthing series to us and I could not be more thankful for it. It truly made all the difference in my labour. I had the most calm, peaceful experience and I know it was because of the relaxation techniques I learned and practiced often.

I also had the ultimate support team with me through this experience and I am forever grateful for each of them. I was completely honoured to have BOTH of my doula partners present and their support was immeasurable. I could not have asked for a better team of midwives who supported me in all my hopes and wishes and enabled me to have the home water birth I was looking for.  

This whole pregnancy went by in a flash. Even with feeling like complete garbage for a large part of it, I was full term in what felt like no time. It is amazing how one toddler and a very busy doula schedule allow you time for little else - even time to wrap your brain around having another baby. SO we basically went through the whole pregnancy talking little of it. Aside from taking hypnobirthing and practicing those techniques, we did not prepare much of anything, did not choose names, didn't even talk about a name until a week or two before she was born (after all the baby's name was Bean), none of the basic stuff that parents usually start doing once they see that positive pregnancy test. I did have organized what was most important to me - I had my healthy baby, my supportive husband, a crack team of doulas and my wonderful midwifes. The rest was just details. All I knew was that I wanted to birth my baby at home in water and did not want anything unnecessary.



  
I really wanted to make sure everything was organized for the water birth so when I was a few weeks away from my due date we got the pool ready. Just as a side note to those wishing to have a water birth - make sure you have everything (mostly) set up by your 37th week. If you go into labour any sooner you will need to be at the hospital but come week 37 your home birth is a go as planned. It would be very disappointing to discover a leak (as we did) in the pool or that it takes WAY longer to inflate than you expect (also, as we did) all while in labour. A friend was kind enough to lend us a birthing pool. After a very frustrating evening of using a bicycle pump (do not use a bicycle pump) to inflate it and discovering a leak, another friend lent us a foot pump (DO use a foot pump). Once we patched and inflated the pool most of the way we were ready to go. Aida loved the empty pool and literally just wanted to sit and read her books inside it. No, we did not keep it in the middle of the living room for weeks. 

So here it is. 

I was 10 days away from my due date and not at all expecting to have a baby yet. I was 5 days post dates with Aida and was not thinking I would be at all 'early'. Even with all of my doula experience I had no idea I was in early labour. My doula brain was off and my oh-so-silly mom brain was in high gear. I had a wonderful sleep the night before (missed clue #1) - a rarity for any woman as pregnant as I was - and woke up feeling very energized. I gave my belly my standard good morning rub and smiled at the fact that baby had moved - their back was clearly laying right along the front of my stomach when it had always been along my right side (missed clue #2). I had so much energy (missed clue #3) that I cleaned my house top to bottom, including getting on my hands and knees and pulling the dog hair off the non-scratch pads on the feet of the dining room table and chairs (missed clue #4). While Curran was at work I enlisted Aida's help in rearranging all the living room furniture to prepare it for our home birth that would happen in the next couple weeks (missed clue #5). 

When Curran arrived home from work he simply smirked, shook his head and told me to go have a rest since I was "basically going to have a baby right away." I doubt it.

I had my first massage appointment during this pregnancy (I know, so dumb) at 7pm with one of my doula partners who also happens to be a RMT (lucky me). Half an hour into my massage my very tense hamstring and IT band released and literally seconds later I felt and faintly herd a little "pop." Yep. I realized what happened and let out an exasperated "are you freaking kidding me?!" I was so relieved that all this was happening with my doula partner and that I hadn't just destroyed a strangers sheets. 

I was not feeling any contractions, only the same old Braxton's Hicks that I had been having my entire pregnancy, but there was slightly more blood than either of us were comfortable with so we made a call to the my midwife and headed to the Birth Centre to be checked. In the car on the way I finally got a hold of Curran (yes, on speaker phone) who got himself into a characteristic panicked flap trying to prepare the house and get care for Aida organized. Our wonderful neighbours came to the rescue and watched Aida while he borrowed their car and met us at the birth centre. 

I was examined by my midwife just after 8pm and I was already 4cm dilated! No wonder there was more blood than expected. Things were changing fast and I was not yet feeling as though I was in labour. We headed home in the separate cars we arrived in. Once in the car I took a moment to collect myself and talk to my baby. I wrapped my head around the fact that I was in labour and told my baby that if they were ready then so was I. I drove home. When I turned onto my block I got my fist "real" contraction. "Oh boy." "Yep, I remember that now"


I was welcomed home by a VERY excited Aida who kept shouting "Baby Bean Is Coming!" My heart sank and I cried a little as I said good bye to my only child for the last time. Things were about to change forever.     

My very wise midwife, who was supposed to come to the house around 11pm, called Curran with a feeling that she should come right away to set up her things. I am so glad she did. She arrived shortly after 930 and things were beginning to kick off. Although the contractions were feeling intense things were great. I was in the zone.

The first of my doulas arrived somewhere around 10pm. I was listening to a hypnobirthing track on repeat while calmly working through my contractions with Curran. My doula, as all great doulas do, provided me with whatever else I needed in the moment. She helped kept my breath calm and steady and my body relaxed. My other doula arrived soon after and along with working her magic, captured some great pictures of my birth.






It was not long after my doulas arrived that I felt the need to get into the pool. What a magical sensation that was! I remember feeling how the warmth of the water on my legs was the most extraordinary sensation. As I lowered my body into the water I knew it would not be long before I was holding my new baby. The relief I felt as I entered the water is indescribable. I was somewhere truly amazing. I was not in pain. I was not scared. I was in a state of release. I felt every shift and change in my body and every move my baby made. I was in the deepest state of meditation that I will ever achieve, of this I am sure.

The next series of pictures were taken over approximately 15minutes  











The jolt from one moment to the next was extreme but SO wonderful. This moment. This moment is perfection.




These first minutes are simply gobsmacking. It's a girl! I did it! We did it! I cannot believe we MADE this beautiful creature and she is ours, we get to keep her.


Dad getting in some skin-to-skin time

Bonding

Baby Bean (as she was known until she was 4 or 5 days old) was born on September 30th at 11:24 pm, less than 2.5 hours after I felt my first 'real' contraction. She was 6 lbs 11oz.

Ella being examined by the Midwife


One of the best decisions we made for this birth was having our baby at home. For anyone with a healthy, low risk pregnancy I could not advocate more for home birth. I laboured and birthed this lovely little baby in the place I am most comfortable, then was able to crawl into MY cozy bed and snuggle with her all night long. My midwife stayed for quite some time after to ensure we were both safe and healthy and she even did my laundry and helped Curran and the doulas clean up, all while I snuggled with and got to know my new little treasure. The entire time I was happy and felt secure in our place, I ate my yummy food, we were kept warm with my soft bedding that doesn't smell of bleach and other harsh chemicals and we all slept the whole night through without nurses waking us every hour to perform their disrupting checks. Totally dreamy! I could not be happier with our experience.


Snuggles soon after welcoming our lady Earth side
Happy mama with a squishy baby
Aida meeting her baby sister for the first time
Aida really likes her
Curran and I are very lucky
Less than 24 hours old
Ella's 3rd day 

I have been tossing around the idea of sharing my birth story on the blog for a while now. I was reluctant to at first simply because of the work I do. I am often asked by my clients what my birth was like, what choices I made, and often in the throws of the most difficult time in labour - "was it like this for you?" The only answer I ever really give is "what my labour was like doesn't really matter, this is about you and your labour." I always feel like there is never a good answer to these questions. The experience of labour is different for every woman. The point in me blabbing on here is to say please don't play the comparison game with your labour. Whether it is before, during or after you have a baby, comparing your experience with any one else's is pointless. Your labour is your own, so own it for what it is, was or will be.

Ina May Gaskin and Reducing Fear of Birth

Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, PhD (Hon) is legendary in the world of Midwifery. She is founder and director of the 41 year old Farm Midwifery Center in Tennessee. 
Ina May Gaskin, photo credit: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/birth%20story

You can read a Bio of the lovely Ina May on her web site here.

One of my favorite 'birth prep' books is Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. It was the only book I found useful while awaiting my own birth journey and I have since lent it to many friends and family. Instead of filling your head with all the things that could possibly go wrong during labour, Ina May provides a much needed dose of positive birth stories and confidence boosting facts about the natural ability of a woman's body to birth a baby. She has an amazing ability to bring a pregnant woman and her obsessing thoughts back to the reality of the entirely natural process. Ina May focuses on reducing fear in labour and birth and talks much about the fear-pain response of a labouring woman. Much of the work a doula does before and during birth is to reduce that woman's fears and therefore the pain she experiences. I entered my labour with 100 percent confidence in myself and my body's ability to birth and believe Ina May's words have much to do with that.

 
Very Recently a movie was made called Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm midwives which look amazing. The trailer alone is beautiful.

Thank you Ina May for all that you do to empower women and families and allow people to view birth the way it should be - "unadorned, unabashed, and awe-inspiring"  


Interview

I was recently interviewed about being a doula by Jennifer for her blog, Regular Everyday People. Her blog is one of inspiration. The entire concept of her blog is captured perfectly in her tag line "Finding magic in ordinary life, because that's where it is." You should take a bit of time, grab yourself a cup of coffee and dig in to the richness of the everyday people she interviews. It's worth it, I promise. At least read my interview:) Enjoy!



"The concept of a 'due' date is something that is very abstract in many cultures. If, like in Uganda, you count a pregnancy by the moons, you end up having a 'due month' and baby comes when she is perfectly ripe without causing mama lots of anxiety."

"The very talented artist who created this beautiful illustration is Itaiana Battoni - Desenho Artístico."





















I saw this on the Mother Health International Facebook page today and think it is such a great message. We are not supposed to be the ones deciding when it is time for baby to be born. Our society needs to re-learn patience and realize that the baby will begin the process of birth when they are ready. It is so incredibly rare that this natural process will not happen on it's own, and it breaks my heart every time I see or hear about unnecessary interventions that try to force a woman's body into labour. 

Here's to patience! You're going to need it as a parent anyways...you might as well practice it before you become one.

One Powerful Mama

A while back I attended the birth of a friend of mine who was having her second baby. It was an amazing experience for me. I felt so completely honoured to be present during this beautiful and fast birth. It was a home birth, a first for me. It was such a wonderful and relaxed setting. Surrounded by all the people she wanted, in the place she felt most warm, secure and comfortable, Heather laboured like a champ! It was fast, very fast. I was there less than an hour before she birthed her beautiful baby girl. But a crazy hour it was! Everything happened so fast. I new her first was a fairly quick labour and that this was going to be even faster, but I was even shocked at how quickly things were moving. The way Heather laboured was completely inspiring! She is so incredibly powerful and makes it look so easy.

Heather's photographer was not able to make it in time for the birth so I tried my best to fill both roles: the doula and the photographer. I am by NO accounts a professional photographer but I tried to capture this amazing event as best I could. It was a challenge to go from taking pictures to massaging to pictures to climbing over furniture to providing counter pressure to pictures to assisting getting in and out of the tub to pictures and all over again, but such a FUN challenge! You can read Heather's birth story here and see some of the pictures I took during her labour (she created a very nice slideshow at the end of the post). While your at it, check out the rest of this mama's great blog, careful tho, you might just lose a few hours of your day getting lost in all its inspiring glory.

Since Heather's birth I have had the great honour of being a doula for another wonderful friend of mine. Having these experiences has been too amazing to put into words. I have been witness to the birth of two children who will grow alongside my own daughter, who will pay together, learn together and journey through life together. I will know these souls from birth until forever and that fills me with such joy.   

Happy Tuesday to you all!