Molly’s Birth Story

I knew something was going to happen on March 2nd. It’s my sister’s birthday and, with my due date so close (the 5th) my entire family had been focusing their energy on the 2nd. So, when we went out for spicy food the night of the 1st, I had a feeling something was going to happen soon.  Sure enough, around 1AM, I started to feel some mild cramping. The cramping came and went most of the night – enough to be noticeable, but not enough to prevent me from dozing off in between the sensations. After I got up around 7:30, the cramping was still going on and I noticed I had started to bleed. I woke Lee up and said to him, don’t get too excited, but I think I’m in early labor!  Of course Lee sat bolt upright, as excited as could be.  I called my mom and told her to pack, but not to rush up, as I knew early labor could last hours (or even days) before it really got going. Sure enough, as soon as I got up and showered, the cramps and bleeding slowed and by lunchtime they had petered out all together.  I decided to take a nap and when my doula Shannon called around 1PM, she said that this often happened in early labor, and that it would probably start to pick up again that evening. Lee watched a few episodes of Dr. Who and I started a puzzle; we got some (decaf) coffee and took a short walk, and generally tried to pass the time – although neither of us could concentrate much and we were both filled with nervous excitement. My mom got to our house around 5PM and just like Shannon had predicted, my cramps picked up again soon after. They were still fairly mild, enough that I could breathe and talk through them without having to stop what I was doing, although I was getting a little bit anxious that everyone would go to bed and that my laboring would pick up again at night while everyone was asleep. I didn’t want Lee and my mom to be too exhausted for when I was in active labor, so I asked my doulas to come over around 11PM.  When they got here, Shannon gave me her TENS unit and, after about an hour of rubbing my back, decided everyone should try to get some rest.

I labored through the night while Lee dozed beside me, trying to keep myself calm as my anticipation built. The sensations were getting stronger but were still only coming on every 10 minutes or so. Around 4AM, the TENS started to feel too intense, so I took it off and tried to go to sleep. We all woke up (that is, we all got up, as I don’t think anyone had slept very much!) and Lee made breakfast. In the middle of breakfast (around 9:30am) I went to pee and felt my water bag break! I shouted out to Shannon, who came and confirmed that my bag had broken and that the water was clear (the home birth community spends a lot of time talking about meconium, and we knew to check out the color when my bag broke to make sure there was no meconium in the water). After that, I was able to finish up breakfast before things escalated very quickly. My labor picked up and got really intense, with contractions coming on stronger almost immediately after my water broke. Around 11AM, I said to Lee, maybe we should call our midwife Maria. He was trying to go by the 4-1-1 rule (contractions are four minutes apart, lasting a minute, for an hour) and at the same time, trying not to get too caught up in the exact timing of everything, so he said, maybe we should give it another half hour. Shannon, on the other hand, has a lot of experience with laboring mamas and decided that it would be a good idea to call Maria then. Maria said she would be over in about an hour, and as my labor picked up, Shannon, Joy, Lee, and my Mom all pretty much followed me around the house as I would labor in different rooms. I spent a good part of labor in the bathroom, where Lee had taped up the affirmations we had wrote in our birth class. I repeated the affirmations to myself over and over – “Normal is different for everyone;” “We are all here to make sure everyone is okay;” “We are this much closer to meeting our child;” “Shoulders down, stay grounded;” “Stay calm, find your groove, and breathe;” “Your mother did this, your grandmother did this, every woman you descend from has done this;” “This is work with a purpose;” “Go Team Springer!;” “Think of the tiny socks;” and my personal favorite, “You can have a beer after this!” Lee in particular spent a lot of time trying to make me more comfortable – at one point when I said the bathroom was too bright, he went and got some cardboard to tape over the skylight. Unfortunately, by the time he got the cardboard up, I had moved on to the living room couch…

Maria got to our house around 12:30pm and checked me. To everyone’s surprise (my response was “no f***ing way, are you serious?!”), I was already at 8cm! Maria warned me that labor was going to get even more intense at that point as I entered transition. Sure enough, all of a sudden no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. I got up and held onto Lee with my arms around his neck, leaning into him. All of a sudden, I felt a little queasy and in the time it took me to say “I think I might throw up” Shannon was there with a bag, and just in time – I threw up breakfast and more, about five times in a row (I remember saying something like, “I can’t believe I just threw up! That felt great! I’m going to brush my teeth!”). Maria suggested that I take a shower and when I got out, it would be time to push. Sure enough, half an hour later I was out of the shower and suddenly felt a sensation that’s pretty indescribable. I had asked Maria how I would know when it was time to push, and she just said, “you’ll know.” Yep, she was right – I just knew. I started pushing on the birthing stool and Maria was an absolutely amazing coach. At one point I started screaming “get out of me baby!!!” and Maria said, hey Leah! How about you take all that energy you’re using to scream and direct it down. After that my mom said I didn’t make a sound. Through every contraction I just focused all my energy on getting the baby to move down, down, down. Pushing was the most emotionally difficult part of labor for me – it was just such hard work and hard not to get discouraged. Everyone was encouraging me the whole time, and Maria asked me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. At that point (when I first started pushing) she had about two inches to go and I spent the rest of the hour I pushed with my hand on her head, feeling her slide out slowly but surely. The most daunting part was when she would slide backwards once I stopped pushing. It took a lot of convincing from Maria that the pushing was working! Once her head finally crowned, there was one final, all-consuming push (Lee said in the time it took me to say “SO MUCH PRESSURE!” she was out) and finally, at 2:51PM, Molly was here! She came out alert and awake, they laid her on my chest, and I looked around the room – at the midwives, the doulas, my mom, and Lee – in wonder and amazement. Molly was finally here, after all the waiting, all the worry, and all the work – and she was just fine. Screaming her little head off and completely nonplussed by all the commotion around her. Lee held her for awhile while I worked with the midwives to get the placenta delivered. After everything got stabilized, Molly and I practiced nursing for a bit, we ate supper, and the three of us stared at each other in awe. We couldn’t believe that we had made this perfect little person, that she had come from us and was part of us. My last memory of the day was Lee asking me, “Do you mind if I leave the light on? I’m just going to sit here and stare at her for the next, like, four hours.” I smiled at him and fell into sleep surrounded by my baby and my husband, feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness and peace.


9 thoughts on “Molly’s Birth Story

  1. Barbra says:

    It touched my heart,’

  2. Caryn says:

    Wow. You’re a mommy! Thanks for sharing your story – if you don’t mind me asking, what made you decide to do a homebirth? I’ve always just assumed I’d go to a hospital but you’ve made me consider other options (for when that day comes…) She’s beautiful! Mazel Tov!

  3. Barbara Bia says:

    So amazing and beautiful. Thanks for sharing

  4. David Burk says:

    OMG. This is an amazing birth story. I am assuming the midwife was Maria Iorillo, who is close friends with Rebekah (my wife and nurse-midwife, for those of you who don’t know me). We did a home birth and it was close to as magical as yours. Thank you for writing this up–it proves, again, how heroic and amazing women are!

  5. Brian says:

    What a wonderfully, captivating story of your first child’s birth! I was totally on the edge of my seat reading this post : ) This is something she will read and be thankful that she has you and Lee as her parents. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Wishing you all the very best!!!!!

  6. You are simply amazing and I feel so blessed to have been part of such a special day. Love those last couple lines about what Lee said…I actually teared up thinking about it!

  7. Birgit says:

    Leah, that was a beautiful birth story. You write so well, and thank you so very very much for sharing it with me. Hope you are doing well with Molly almost one month old! Take care, and I’ll be in contact over email too.

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