Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Arrival of Arden Karenna McKown

In Honor of MK McKown, Part 2

March 18, 2001, 8:44am

Arden is our second child, our second daughter, an amazing gift, and a wonderful little sister to her big sister Kealey, whose birth story appears early in this book.
The whole time I was pregnant with Arden, I was in disbelief a lot- even though I could see that I was pregnant and feel the baby moving. I had a hard time believing we’d actually have a baby at the end of the process. I had a very hard time sensing who this child was, but when I think about it, I thought the baby was a boy- mostly because the pregnancy felt so different than the first time. I also was very nervous that this labor would be very quick and chaotic- the start of life with two children! However, when I did consciously slow down and go inside myself- once at 20 weeks and again 4 days before she was born, I felt the calm, and strength and trust that brought me through the process.
My due date was March 17- St. Patrick’s Day- and being Irish, I was thrilled and hopeful that this child might manifest some aspects of her Irish heritage- red hair, freckles, a St. Pat’s birthday. But since our first daughter looks almost solely like her Swedish side of the family, I thought there was a good chance that this child would also look very Swedish. So, if we could at least have that St. Patricks Day birthday….I was fond of the idea…
…So fond, that I actually decided to drink some castor oil on the morning of March 17. I read Spiritual Midwifery and actually drank 3 doses over 3 hours as suggested. It was not nearly as gruesome as I had always heard about… Around 2pm, no signs of labor in sight, I suggest to my husband that we all go walk at Ocean Beach- it’s an uncommonly beautiful, blue sky- an almost warm, almost spring day in San Francisco. My mind is scattered, more than I realize, and it’s almost 4pm before we get out the door. As we drive over to the beach, I feel really uncomfortable and confined and almost insist we turn back and go home. But I have to pee so badly and the bathroom at Beach Chalet is closer than home. He drops me off at the entrance and I waddle in as quickly as a woman of my size (and state of mind) could. I feel tremendously better after peeing and resolve that I really want to walk on the beach and feel the energy and calm and power of the ocean. It’s a spectacular afternoon and I manage to walk for about an hour before feeling like I have to get back home. Still no clear signs of impending labor, so we decide to get spicy Thai food from Marnee Thai- there’s still 6 hours of St. Patrick’s Day left…
We bring the food home and light our three candles- the fourth sits dark, quietly waiting for the new baby’s arrival. After dinner, I sit with Kealey and notice that the abdominal pains I’m experiencing have some regularity to them and involve my whole uterus. I sit through a few more and start to wonder whether we should call the midwives and support people- I felt a very quick labor was likely and didn’t want to somehow deliver before the midwives arrived. Maria told me to go to bed and see what happened. I called Joan, who was making St. Patrick’s Day scones with her sister in Millbrae, and told her things might be starting. I felt very sheepish about asking her to come over before things were gangbusters. We decided that she and her daughter Orla, 7 years, would come soon, and spend the night, so that if this was real no one would have to mobilize in the middle of the night. We got Kealey to sleep around 9:30pm and soon after, Joan and Orla arrived. We got Orla to bed and then Joan and I stayed up and talked for awhile while Craig puttered about in the kitchen and laundry porch. Finally, I looked at the clock and saw that it was midnight- St. Patrick’s day was officially over. I checked to see what Craig was up to- he was ironing all of our napkins! I figured my nesting, maternal energy was really affecting him. (He had also set up the birth tub so that it was ready…)
Finally, everyone went to bed, our house full of people excitedly anticipating the birth. Sure enough, I woke up at 3am, knowing that labor had truly begun. I enjoyed a few contractions in the dark quiet, talking to the baby, assuring him/her that we were ready and that he/she would be safe and strong for the passage. Everyone else was still sleeping, and I got up and went to the bathroom a couple times, plotting when I would awaken Craig and call the midwives, hoping to wait until approximately 6am. Around 4am, I felt things accelerating and knew I needed to wake Craig, who woke Joan and called Maria, Clark and Beth. As I sensed everyone arriving quietly, I felt my attention shift inward. Heather Joy arrived and sat in front of me, on the floor, gentle and wide-eyed and encouraging while I sat on the edge of my bed, moaning to the baby with each contraction.
I could really feel how this labor was marching right along- not too fast, but no long pauses. Maria checked me around 6:00am and said I was 7cm. At 7am I was fully dilated and they said I could get into the birth tub to push her out. It took a few minutes to mobilize to get out of the dining room. A contraction hit just as I got there and I yelled out- making low but loud, powerful noises to match the intensity of what I felt. I looked outside the dining room window just before crawling into the tub and saw the neighbor’s magnolia tree in full bloom. Its spectacular color and beauty washed across me and permeated my awareness. I thought the baby would be here in 2-3 pushes and I realized someone would need to wake Kealey up. Amazingly, she had slept through everything up to this point!
Kealey entered the room and was in this amazing space. She approached the tub gently and confidently and offered my water from her special water bottle. She watched a contraction and then, not phased at all, calmly asked me if I wanted her to massage my heart. It was an incredibly dear, spontaneous, aware offering and I really wanted to say yes, but massage was low on my wish list at that moment. She conferred with the midwives, wanting to get into the birth tub with us at the earliest possible moment.
The pushing contractions were intense and powerful and in the water, they felt deep and right. Between contractions, I could totally space out and relax in the water, imagining that I was lounging in a natural pool at the base of a waterfall. I’d been pushing for awhile- maybe 45 minutes or an hour, and I was surprised that I wasn’t feeling the “ring of fire” yet. I thought that maybe I was just losing my focus in the final phase and told myself to get with it and finish the job. Maria later told me that after watching about 4 or 5 pushes and seeing how effective they were, she realized that this was probably a big baby and started to prepare herself.
Finally, I felt the baby at the opening and with a few more pushes, she was finally out! I had always envisioned that I would be totally aware and reach down and pull her to me, watching her “swim” for a few moments before drawing her close (Instead, I spaced out until she was on my chest). When she was finally out, I was so relieved and thankful- Maria’s assistant, Heather Joy, caught the moment on film- and it truly captures the joy and relief of the moment.
We had Kealey check to see whether the baby was a little sister or brother, and when she said “It’s a sister!” I almost died- I thought she was wrong and looked down myself. I was so thrilled to welcome another little girl into our family. Hmmm, no wonder I could only think of little girl names during the pregnancy…!
Kealey climbed into the tub with us and we enjoyed a few minutes of being a “water family” before I had to get out and birth the placenta. Everyone was marveling at how big the baby was and, her hair was definitely red! Maria and Heather Joy dried me off and comfortably settled in the chair and I nursed her and just soaked it all in. Arden was born at 8:44am and the day, Sunday, was just coming into fullness and beauty- very different from Kealy’s 1:30am birth- things got quiet and still for a few hours before the excitement began again!
Maria and Heather Joy did the post-partum exam and gave me one stitch for my tiny vaginal tear. Finally the baby’s newborn exam where everyone guessed at her weight- I guessed 9lb 12oz but Craig said she feels like “a crate of zucchini”- atleast 10lbs. Maria put her in the sling and sure enough- ten pounds exactly! Wow- it never occurred to me during labor that I would have a big baby and I’m glad I didn’t know. I would have worried about whether I could do it. Just trusting my body and welcoming the comfort and support of the water, and having a team of my closest friends, family and Maria and Heather Joy, to whom I would trust my life- and our wonderful home- I can’t imagine a better way to welcome our wonderful daughter. She has been an incredible gift and Kealey has been a fantastic, loving big sister. Parenting two has been so much more joyous than I expected. Our charm shows a person with a hand and a heart- symbolizing Arden coming into circle of waiting hands and hearts.

Love Always & Thank You

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Arrival of Kealey Linnea McKown

In Honor of Mary Kay McKown, Part 1

November 17, 1996 at 1:24am

I awoke about 3:00am on Friday, November 15 with very mild, but very regular “contractions” which happened every 5 minutes and lasted about 10 seconds. This definitely didn’t fit with how I imagined labor would start and I figured that maybe the baby had “dropped” a bit and I was feeling bladder spasms. I laid in bed and drifted in and out of sleep, wondering, excited, but not wanting to call anyone or every awaken my husband prematurely. The alarm went off at 6:00am and I told Craig that labor might be starting and was a little annoyed when he decided he should go to work to finish a few things and could come home quickly if needed. But I knew that these mild sensations might be “false labor” and that his plan was sound. I got up with him and took a picture of the beautiful sunrise out our back window on the day our child might be born. As I moved around from 6-8am, the sensations pretty much stopped but I called Maria at about 8:30am to ask how to tell the difference between real and “false” labor. She wasn’t home so I decided to see what happened as the day went on. I took care of a few errands in the morning and laid down for a nap between 11:00 and 1:30. When I got up, I decided to do some neighborhood walking to see if that would stimulate things. I walked to 24th Street and back, about one and a half miles total and had a series of encounters with passerbys who seemed to know I was close to going into labor. As I had not had a lot of public comment on my pregnancy from anonymous passer-bys in the past, it was very surprising to me that three different people spoke to me about how close I was to labor. One woman said she’d seen me walking in the neighborhood over the past weeks and wanted to tell me how beautiful I looked- very uplifting! I dropped my purchases off at my house and decided to take a “real walk” about four miles up and down hills of Noe Valley and Dolores Street. About every 20 minutes I’d feel a “sensation” that I sang through but nothing intense or long-lasting. My husband got home around 6pm after stopping for a bottle of wine so that I could have a much-looked-forward-to full glass of wine that evening. I called Jenny to let her know I might be going into labor and she advised a full glass of wine and a hot bath. I drank the wine and was dismayed to find it tasted awful. But I drank the whole glass with the hope it would induce sleep. After my bath, we went to bed. I slept from about 10pm until midnight when the sensations got a little more intense and about every 15 minutes apart. (I forgot the passerby comment- as I was in the final stretch of my four mile walk, I saw a woman across the street (Church Street) who was pushing a stroller and seemed to be looking at me and smiling. She waved at me and yelled “Hey you’re walking into labor, aren’t you?!!” I yelled back, “I think so…I’m trying to.” She yelled “Good luck, it’s great!”) And as I was walking on Dolores Street, someone had written “Smile, you’re in good hands.” This was all very amazing to me.
Friday night I continued to have sensations about every 15 minutes which I had to sit on the side of my bed and rock myself through. I was now convinced that this was early labor and was concerned that at this pace, it would be a five day affair! I let my husband sleep through the night because I wanted to make sure he had energy for the next day. And, I enjoyed the privacy of early labor- the quietness, the darkness, the excitement and expectation of things to come.
We had phoned our labor support friends Friday night and let them know that labor might be starting, and by Saturday morning at about 7:00am, I was ready for company to share this experience. Joan and John arrived about 8:00am and we all hung out, ate a little, drank a little and started to ready the house. We had rented a big birthing tub from Natural Resources for relaxation during labor and hadn’t set it up yet. John and Craig took on that task while Joan and I rocked through contractions. Things were still moving very slowly, about every 12-15 minutes. After John and Craig got the tub set up, I suggested we all go for another walk. We all set out on a circuitous route through Noe Valley and I was walking like I was in labor; slowly and needing to stop with each contraction. This day, however, no one commented on my labor status. We walked for about 2 hours and took note of the sky and the winds. A big storm, the first of the season, was moving in, supposed to arrive that night. I wondered if our child would wait to be born in the storm as many other very significant events in our lives had taken place during big storms. I looked forward to relaxing in the tub and watching the storm come in.
When we got home, we found that the tub wasn’t heating up and it took a few hours to correct that problem. Finally, around 6:00pm, it was ready and I was excited to get in it. I talked to Jenny on the phone about the pace of this labor and asked for advice about how to relax with the contractions. I felt that I couldn’t get comfortable with them and that I was resisting labor at some level. Jenny advised getting in the tub and seeing if it would relax me. Craig and I hung out in the dining room (where we had set the tub up) and listened to the impending storm and talked about being on the brink of parenthood and what that meant for both of us. I still felt very aware and “in my head” about labor and feared that this meant we still had a couple of days to go. I got up and went to the bathroom and talked with Joan about what might be holding up labor. We called upon the energies and psychic presence of all the women in my family who had given birth, especially my mom and asked for their help. I got up and took two steps into the hallway and aham! I felt a big, long, hard contraction- I started crying on my husband’s shoulder- this was it. Joan called Jenny to say that labor seemed to be happening in earnest- then contractions were now 4-5 minutes apart and strong. After my bath, I was able to lie down on my bed and moan that each contraction was like a wave washing over me. I wasn’t very aware of how often they were coming or how long they lasted and I didn’t “do” anything to cope with them. Jenny arrived around 8:30pm and Craig’s brother and sister-in-law, Clark and Beth arrived shortly thereafter. The guys went out for a burrito run and Joan and Beth helped me to the bathroom. When I wiped myself, my mucous plug appeared in the tissue.
I went back to bed to moan and float through contractions. Joan and Beth were rubbing my back and my legs; the guys joined in when they got back. Jenny checked me when it seemed the contractions were getting even stronger- I was 7cm dilated! I got this incredible urge to push with each contraction and after checking the condition of my cervix, Jenny said it was okay to keep pushing. Around this time, I noticed Maria was in the room also.
By 10:30pm, I was fully dilated and ready to really push. The storm had definitely arrived and I could hear it pouring outside my window. The midwives asked the group whether we thought the baby would be born on the 16th or 17th- I thought they were joking! I was sure this baby would be born on the 16th. Pushing was much more of a challenge than I expected. I could feel that I was pushing hard and generating a lot of force but the baby wasn’t moving. We tried different positions- squatting, semi-reclined, etc. and nothing. My water did break with one of the pushes- that was quite dramatic. Finally, at about 12:30am on the 17th, Maria and Jenny suggested I go back to the tub and relax with Craig. As much as I enjoyed the first time, I didn’t want to go this time because I was afraid it would sap my last remaining bit of energy. They really encouraged me though and so I went. I started drinking this potent ginseng tea and eating slices of the root and sat in the tub. It was magical outside- really dark and really wet and I enjoyed taking it in. However, I was really starting to doubt that I could do this at home- I didn’t have much more energy. Around this time, Maria came in to see how we were doing. I asked her if she was aware of any common psychological/emotional blocks to labor at this point. She looked at my and said very sincerely, “MK, I believe you’ve got what it takes to do this” and reminded me that many first-time moms push from 2 to 4 hours, sometimes 6. She gave me an herbal tincture to strengthen my contractions and then checked the position of the baby’s head in my pelvis. She said her head seemed slightly tilted and maybe a little stuck and encouraged me to push as hard as I could and think about opening as wide as possible with the next contraction. Suddenly, I felt stronger and able again- her words of faith in me, the ginseng, the herbs, the warm water and maybe the baby’s decision to be born- who knows? But with the next contraction, I felt her head at my vaginal opening and knew that I was about to have this baby.
I got out of the tub and walked quickly down the hall back to my bed. I laid down in a semi-reclining position in time for the next contraction and it was hard. Finally, by pushing with my legs against two people seated on the bed and pulling with my arms against their resistance, I could sustain pushing long enough for her head to emerge. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold on long enough for her head to come out completely and she slipped back in. With the next contraction everybody was cheering and encouraging me and her head came completely out. Her shoulders came out on the next push and she immediately shot her left arm up as if to wave hello to everyone. The next push she was completely out and the midwives put her on my chest. I was amazed at how beautiful and pink and alert she was- she cried lustily briefly and then just looked around. After a minute or so, it occurred to me to check her sex- I had a feeling we were having a boy- and was completely surprised and thrilled to find out we had a daughter. I held her and welcomed her and loved her for a few minutes while Craig cut the cord with Maria’s assistance. Then I had to get up and do the surprising hard work of delivering the placenta. Then I got to hold her again while Maria and Jenny checked for any tearing- none! Then they helped me to shower while each person present got to hold and welcome Kealy. Maria and Jenny stayed another four hours making sure I was okay and doing a newborn exam and then everybody, including me, ate some wonderful minestrone soup that Joan had made. At about 4:30am, Kealey and Craig went to sleep together, Clark and Beth went home and Joan and John went to sleep on the futon. Maria and I took care of a few last details and she left around 5:30am. We all got up the next morning around 8:30am, called the grandparents and the uncles and had a spontaneous, celebratory pancake breakfast. Orla & Mary came with a birthday cake and the uncles were here too. The grandparents all arrived that afternoon. By the afternoon, I was starting to feel deliriously tired and almost fell asleep mid-sentence talking to my mother-in-law. She put Craig and I to bed for a couple of hours, after which I awoke aching to hold my beautiful, gentle daughter again.
The rest of our days have been wonderful, lots of holding, kissing, walking, bathing, burping and diaper changes and of course, crying. Our daughter is so calm, aware, present and gentle and I believe that’s in large part due to her very gentle birth where/when she was allowed to come at her own pace and her prenatal care which was free of invasive tests. Maria and Jenny were wonderful beyond words and Kealey, Craig and I are very, very thankful to them for all their care before, during and after her birth. We chose this little silver charm with a little girl on it because it’s circular which is symbolic of so many aspects of life, because our little girl has been a joy and treasure and surprise to us and because the little garnet bead reminded me of the importance of the heart in this process- listening to mine and Craig’s and opening to Kealey’s. Thank you again Maria & Jenny and to Clark & Beth and Joan & John, and to all the mother spirits who came and gave support.

Gratefully and with much love,

Mary Kay, Craig and Kealey

Sunday, May 17, 2009

ACNM President-elect speaks at More Mojo

We were honored to have Holly Kennedy, ACNM President-elect speak to a packed house at More Mojo chiropractic. She showed her presentation about normal birth in the UK. They are experiencing better outcomes with lower intervention rates all because of their focus on normal birth and good midwifery care. In one particular trust, the Albany Trust, which has a particularly high rate of low-income women, they had a 45% homebirth rate with half of the infant mortality of the hospital. This talk was so compelling that even Phyllis and Marshall Klaus came to hear it. Thank you Holly for your tremendous work and for being a true leader in normal birth.

Doctors Vs. Midwives

This is the latest about doctors and midwives in Time magazine. Melissa Cheyney is on the Midwives Alliance Division of Research and is a CPM, researcher.

Friday, May 8, 2009

How to Deliver a Baby in a Taxi Cab!

Hey CPMs, we know her! This is the midwifery partner of MANA's 2nd VP. And this video helped a military dad delivery his baby at home unexpectedly early! Now they are all famous.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ricki Lake on the Today Show!

With the publication of Your Best Birth, Ricki Lake is at it again. Advocating for choices in childbirth, here she is on the Today Show!

Lorena on Martha!

Lorena, you go girl!! Homebirthers don't just give birth. Click the link to watch Lorena with Martha Stewart.