Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mindy in Varney's Midwifery!

Thank you so much to Mindy for sharing her amazing birth photos! The photo of Oliver being born was selected to be in the premiere midwifery textbook in the country, Varney's Midwifery. It is so important for us to share images of empowered women giving birth in a gentle and confident way. Thanks to Sue Baelen for snapping this shot!

Click below to read her full story and see more photos:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Emma!

How can the pull of the midwife be so strong? For the second time, I have "bumped into" Emma and her mom, Vida, right on Emma's birthday! We maybe see each other once a year and yet, there we were, both walking down Mission St. Emma was off to celebrate her 14th birthday with Vida and family friends. It was a wonderful day, 14 years ago! Emma is baby number 381!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sweet Yuna's Birth -- A Double Beauty

Yuna Young Richardson, born in our home on Sunday, February 17th, 2013 at 12:35 am. 5 lbs, 13 oz and 18 inches long.

Labor story:

I started having contractions on Saturday morning, but they were very few and far between. We all went to the playground for Annika's 3rd birthday party, one of Leo's friends from preschool. It was a warm and sunny day. Leo spent almost 3 hours jumping in the bouncy house with his preschool friends! The contractions were so mild and infrequent that I barely noticed them. We went home for lunch and Leo's nap. Russell and I also took a nap.

After dinner, the contractions picked up a little more regularly. I started timing them on my phone. Sometimes they were about 20 minutes apart, sometimes 7 minutes. We decided to call Reise Tanner, our birth doula, to ask her if it was "false labor" and give her a heads up about what was happening. Reise said "there is no such thing as false labor, only early labor, which can be irregular" and said who knows, I could have the baby that night or the next day. She said to call her when the contractions got to be 5-1-1. (Every 5 minutes lasting 1 minute for 1 hour). We also called Maria Iorillo, the midwife, to let her know what was going on. She said to call at 4-1-1.

My last contraction had been about 25 minutes before I called Reise, but it suddenly picked up very fast. As I was putting Leo to bed, the contractions were getting a lot more painful. I had Russell call Reise back because the contractions were now 4 to 6 minutes and I was having a harder time talking. I went to the bathroom and I was shivering and shaking. I told her I needed her to come over ASAP.

I went into the bedroom and leaned on Russell's dresser during contractions and told him to put pressure on my back and hips. Russell had been setting up the birthing tub and now had to run between that and attending to me during contractions. I told him to call Maria now, too. Russell wasn't sure if we should call because I hadn't had the contractions for a whole hour, but I made him do it anyway because they were so intense and painful. I told him to tell her to come over NOW.

Russell called Torrey, who was out with friends, to come home so she could put Leo back to sleep if he woke up.

So Reise, Torrey, and Maria were all on their way. The contractions were so close together and I started getting anxious and asking what was taking everybody so long (at least it felt like a long time to me) to get here. I was yowling and needed Russell for every contraction. He reassured me they all were coming soon. During the contractions I tried to loosen up instead of stiffen up and chanted to myself, “Baby’s coming, baby’s coming.”

Maria got here first. She parked in the driveway and Russell helped carry up all her supplies. She told me calmly that she would set up some things and then give me an exam to see how far along I was. When she examined me she said, "Allison, you're fully dilated! You've already done all the hard work. If you have a feeling like you need to push, you can go ahead."

Torrey came home next and we asked her to get Leo back to sleep if he woke up.

Maria called a second midwife, Sue Baelen, to come over and assist her since I was at the pushing stage. Homebirth midwives always call a second midwife to assist them at the delivery.

I climbed into the birthing tub to see if it would help the pain. It did help a little, and Russell got in, too. Sue checked the temperature and the midwives said I could labor in there but the temperature wasn't warm enough for the baby to be born in there (the hot water had run out while Russell was filling it). So I only stayed in the tub for a few contractions and then moved to the bed to start pushing.

First I tried pushing on my hands and knees. I told Russell to stay at the head of the bed so I could talk to him, and Reise to put pressure on my back. The midwives were at the foot of the bed giving me instructions. I didn't like that position after a while and asked to lie on my side, the same way I pushed Leo out. Reise held my left leg in the air, Russell held my hands. Maria had to explain to me the right way to push, and it took a few contractions for me to figure it out. Maria said to me again, "Now Allison, if you push in this direction you can have your baby in 10 minutes!" She told me to do something with my diaphragm, like grunt or something. I didn't believe her - I thought she was only saying that to get me through the next contraction because I was really doubting that I could endure any more of this. Reise or Maria or someone said something like “go inside and toward the pain, it’s bringing your baby to you.” I said stuff I knew was silly, like “I want drugs now” and “I don’t want to do this anymore” and very creative things like “Ow, it hurts!” Russell was holding my hand and saying “Push! Push!” and I told him, “Don’t say push! Say, “Baby’s coming!” In the moment, being told to push sounded extremely aggressive and I wanted to think about the baby coming instead.

Reise and Maria encouraged me and let me know how close I was. “I can see her hair!” “A quarter inch more!” Maria told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. I focused as hard as I could on what Maria said and pushed through. I surprised myself when during one push I heard my grunt turned into a scream because on that push she crowned and I almost bit Russell’s hand. Then her head was out! When I heard her cry I forgot the pain and fear. A couple more pushes and her body was out. Russell helped to pull her out with Maria. They gave her to me and put her on my chest. We knew we were having a girl, and yes she was! A very very tiny, pink little girl!

Once I had my baby I didn’t really pay that much attention to everything else. I did what Maria asked me to do, push when I needed to, etc. The placenta was all in one piece. Maria told me when the cord was done pulsing and clamped it. Russell cut the cord like he did with Leo. I didn’t have any tearing this time and didn’t lose much blood. Maria said, “not even a bruise.” Everyone told me to go pee and Reise waited for me outside of the bathroom just to make sure I wouldn’t fall or anything.

I couldn't believe I had my baby so fast. It seemed like a very quick switch from going to a birthday party earlier in the day to suddenly having my baby for whom I was so impatient to meet. But I was happy. It turned out that the active labor was about 2 hours total. And I only pushed for about 15 minutes. A very different labor than Leo's (which took 3 days!) Plus it was in our own home.

They changed the sheets and cleaned the room while I rested with the baby. Reise went off to make me a smoothie with a tiny part of the placenta in it - it's supposed to help post-partum recovery. It sounds gross, but I honestly couldn't taste it at all mixed in with the ice cream and fruit and other stuff mixed in with it.

While I was bonding and trying to get the baby to nurse, Maria went to do some paperwork and said she'd examine the baby in a few minutes. She put the baby in a little stork sling with a spring scale and predicted she'd be 6 lbs, but actually she was only 5 lbs and 13 oz. Maria said that the baby looked like she came a little bit early, which she did - she was born on Feb 17th, which was 10 days earlier than her Feb 27th due date, which put her at 38.5 weeks. Maria said that the circumference of her head was a little bit smaller and she didn’t have the fine lines that make her footprints, signs of a slightly early baby.

My observations about the baby: she had dark hair, not a ton of it, but more than Leo did at birth. She looked different than Leo did, too - a different nose (Torrey said maybe from the Richardson side) and it was a bit smushed. Her hands and feet were so small! I remember thinking Leo had big feet when he was born, and this baby’s feet were skinny and short and had 10 tiny wrinkled toes. I still couldn’t believe I had a new baby and that I was the mom of two kids now. She seemed so fragile, even though Maria said she was not - I was afraid to handle her because she seemed so small compared to my 2.5 year old.

We decided to not introduce Leo to the baby until the morning so the rest of us could get some sleep. The baby slept in between Russell and me on our bed. In the morning Leo came over to our room when he woke up and he met his sister for the first time. I said, "Leo do you know who this is?" He said, "Toot Toot!" (That was his nickname for her in utero). He was fascinated by her little features and wanted to hold her. Toot Toot (who still didn’t yet have a name) had some presents for Leo - some Thomas the Train musical books which were really loud and annoying. Leo was thrilled. We had arranged a playdate for him that morning with a bunch of friends, and so we let them know that Russell would still be bringing Leo - but that I’d be home with our newborn daughter!

After a day of staring at the baby and wondering what we should call her, we decided to name her Yuna Young Richardson. Yuna is a Korean name. Korean names are always 2 syllables which are Chinese characters, and their meaning is determined by how the characters are written.

According to my friend Hae-Jeong:
Yoon- Ah 윤아,
The original meaning will be 贇娥 (Yoon-Ah)
Yoon 贇 - beautiful Yoon
Ah 娥- Beautiful Ah (a:)
Beauty is doubly emphasized, so both words, the name means a very beautiful one, person, girl, or woman.

*I’ve been able to write this while Yuna’s sleeping. I wanted to do it before I forgot everything. So far she’s sleeping okay. Thank you baby!

Molly Jeanne is here!

Congratulations to Leah and Lee Springer on the amazing birth of their daughter, Molly Jeanne! Both Leah and Lee were rock stars during this incredible journey that is birth. Leah shares two amazing posts about her homebirth and her decision to have a homebirth. Follow the links below:

Homebirth is a powerful choice. It can change how you see yourself and the world around you. It changes us all.