My birth story really starts around 36 weeks, when I finally decided that I needed to manifest the birth that I’ve always wanted even before becoming pregnant, a homebirth. I wasn’t able to pursue a homebirth when I was first pregnant due to having a new high profile job, and there being no local homebirth midwives for me to easily slip out and see for visits. I was seeing a wonderful group of local midwives that deliver at the St. Joe’s birth center, and I kept telling myself that it will be fine, even though it wasn’t what I truly wanted.
I sought out Sandra, a homebirth midwife out of Ithaca at the suggestion of someone I met after a Mama Birth Yoga class. When she agreed to take me on at 36 weeks, it was like a weight lifted off me and I was instantly at ease and at peace with my pregnancy and birth. I was so thankful that I listened to myself and sought out what was right for us.
At 39 weeks and several days, I woke up at 5am with some period-like cramps. At 7am I lost my mucus plug. Being my first pregnancy, I figured it could be days or today – so best that I clean my house one last time (prepping for a homebirth takes SERIOUS work!) and I also spent hours in my home office working and making lots of calls. I actually noticed I was having contractions mid afternoon while going through a legal brief with my boss. I smiled and thought about how cool that was.
By dinner time, the contractions were a bit more consistent, but I didn’t have to pay attention to them. As my husband and I were about to go out and have a nice Friday night dinner, I decided that they were just a BIT too intense for me to go out of the house, despite my initial denial. I decided to time them and they were exactly a minute long, 6 minutes apart for an hour. By 10:30 pm they were 4 minutes apart and intense. I called my Doula and I told her to come at her own pace and not to feel rushed. At a bit after midnight she arrived and we went upstairs to labor on the ball and bed. She was very pleased at how I was totally giving in to the contractions and I was 3 minutes apart. Her presence was instantly comforting and anchored me to my confidence.
She encouraged my husband to fill the birth tub downstairs, he was thankful for a job to do. I called my midwife and she asked if she could listen to me labor on speaker phone while she got ready. Ironically, I got a couple of major contractions back to back while she was listening. That was intimidating but she was reassuring that she would leave her home, about an hour and a half away, right then.
I got in the tub at around 1am, it was INCREDIBLE! The buoyancy of the water was a great compliment to my Doula’s soothing touch and Don’s strong presence. My midwife arrived, calm and quiet. She knelt down near me and just witnessed. When I noticed her I smiled and greeted her, and she smiled back.
After a while when I was catching my breath between contractions she asked how I was and she asked me when I would be ready to let her check some vitals. It really hit me then, that this was MY birth. I was in control and what I did was assemble a close group of people that were there to be on the journey with me, and love me through it. I felt to secure and so in control. I continued to labor and ride the contractions. I remember them being very intense, I never registered pain or negative feelings. It turns out that of all the hypnobirth music I prepared, what really chilled me out was Tom Petty and his whiney voice. Ha! When my nurse arrived in the 3am hour or I asked, “Is that Morgan Freeman here to narrate my birth? Cause this is going to be epic!” HA! At least there was a few chuckles. Perhaps my happy state is what prompted my midwife to suggest exiting the tub and using the toilet to see if we could intensify the contractions. Well, the laugh was on me, because it SURE DID!
I never understood the need for a cervical dilation check in labor, I wanted to trust that if I listened my body would tell me what I needed to know. Additionally, my midwife didn’t push or require them to assess my status. She offered to check my cervix if I wanted to know where we stood. But I really didn’t want to know. As I stood up my water broke, and I figured that was enough of a sign that I was progressing, no centimeters need be known!
I got back in the tub and everything continued to intensify, I started to have to use horse breath during the entire contraction to keep myself from resisting. Up until then I have to say that lions breath and very deep moaning really got me through. I doubt I took a single wave in silence the whole 20hrs!!! Hours later, after 7am, my midwife again suggested that I consider a cervical exam, because I was showing signs I was ready for Stage 2. I was totally ready for her to check, she did, and I was fully dilated! How proud I was that I trusted my body! How much encouragement my midwife, nurse, Doula and husband had on their faces when they looked at me! My husband called my bestie, a photographer, at 7:30am to tell her to come on over – the baby would be here REALLY SOON! It was 14 hours in and I was almost done.
Wait...whats that? I WASN’T almost done?! Not even close?! Aww man!! Yep: I pushed for 5 hours and 15 minutes. In hindsight I wonder if it was because I held back a bit. I could have been pushing three times during a contraction and I did one good one and a half assed one. I just couldn’t surrender. It brings tears to my eyes to think of how my midwife supported me. She always encouraged me, she helped me gain confidence and above all – she kept telling me that this was my journey. Nothing was wrong with me, I was doing right by trusting my body and taking my time.
We tried the toilet for an hour, and that really helped me focus on the right type of pushing but the intensity was taking over me. It was so tough to surrender and truly push. Eventually we moved to the living room for me to hang on my husband’s knees and squat.
I was pushing more effectively but I was so weak that my legs couldn’t squat anymore. I started to panic internally that my body would give out before my spirit would. My team moved me on to a leaning back position on the couch with my legs up and supported – essentially, it was the position I was always SURE I wouldn’t deliver in! But it was all my body could support.
I pushed for a few hours in this position. The baby had a great heart rate the whole time, and I had 100% support & attention of my team. I finally felt the baby crown and I resisted pushing to let my body adjust and soon I was able to push the baby out! It was impossible for my brain to process the sensation, since it had been such a long time coming! My warm sweet baby came right to my chest.
Over a minute later I looked around and said, “Well, what IS it?!” Wouldn’t ya know? Nobody thought to look! We were just so happy! My midwife looked and said it was a boy and my heart exploded with joy – mainly because I assumed he was a boy all along and I love being right! We stared at him. I delivered the placenta no problem (FYI – I encapsulated it and I highly recommend consumption of it in this form, it has helped me immensely during post partum!)
My husband asked me what his name was, and I definitively said “Rocco!”
Rocco Eraldo Pinti was born at 12:45pm at 7lbs 14oz and 20” long.
I was dunked back in the birth tub to clean off and my loving team carried me up to bed and tucked me in. They cared for me and Don and they cleaned up my house. We ate a snack and smiled at the baby. It was exactly the journey I manifested in my mind. Soon our parents were in our bedroom, all of us sitting on the bed staring in wonder at the next generation! For me, being able to recover at home was critical, because I truly struggled those first few days from the toll that pushing took on my body.
If I could share anything with you, its that you should birth without fear. Its also that you deserve to have a safe empowering birth, where you’re supported and respected. It should not matter where you birth, but how you birth.
Thank you to:
Sandra Londino of BirthRoot Midwifery www.sandralondino.com
Megan Crossgrove, RN
Doulas of CNY, Cristina Reed & Chris Goldman: www.doulasofcny.com
Sarah Oakley of MamaBirth Yoga www.mamabirthyoga.com
The Synergy Center Practitioners, http://www.synergyhhw.com/
Dr. Jessica Sielawa, DC, CACCP (Chiropractic Care)
Kari Gardner, L/AC. (Acupuncture)
Erika DeSocio Photography