The birth story of Althea Ilene, 2015

On Thursday, February 12th around 10:30 at night (after watching that week’s Parks & Rec and Modern Family) I started feeling what I guess could be described as period-like cramps. These were not the braxton hicks style contractions I had been feeling for months. These were cramps. Josiah contacted our doula, just to get her opinion/let her know our status… (she had asked for a play by play a couple weeks prior.)

“Get some sleep.” (not the last time I’ll hear that.)

I stayed in bed, but Josiah worked on filling up the birth tub in our room, just incase things moved quickly ( …Spoiler, they didn’t.) The doula decided to come to our house, and we were working on getting August situated to get to school the next morning… We all go to sleep and when we wake the next morning “labor” has been uneventful but still happening. Josiah takes August to school since things aren’t really crazy at home and the doula is with me.

“Eat something while you can.” I don’t remember what I consumed at this point, but I know I had already started to feel less hungry (a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time.) We ended up baking some banana bread while the doula ran to the hospital to visit her mom. I remember wanting to feel busy, but unable to full on sleep at this point- It was during the banana bread baking I noticed my mind starting wander. I was not able to combine ingredients and move around the kitchen with the ease I was used to.

I really cannot recall much on times after this… It’s not that things even “picked up” at a drastic pace, I think I was just too tired in the end to store the specifics in my brain.

I think I was just in labor for the rest of the day and night. The chiropractor I have been seeing the entire pregnancy visited our home that evening to use her magic touch. The midwives showed up late friday night, turns out it was around 11pm- which I know because of the report I read afterwards of theirs. It was this night I was drifting in and out of sleep while the doula, a close friend and Josiah all helped ease labor discomforts… I was being rubbed on my back, given water, possibly bites of food. I was doing nothing to service my body at this point. Friday night was very peaceful, though- There were candles lit while I labored in my bedroom with almost all silence surrounding me… And the people..Oh, I’ll get back to my feelings for the people later.

At one point I was instructed to walk up and down our steps skipping a step every time. The doula was telling me each time what to do next, “look forward and go up.” contraction. “look forward and come down” contraction. “turn you body to the left and go up” almost make it up, contraction.” This time could have been ten minutes, or an hour. I think the purpose was to work on moving Althea’s positioning…She was posterior. After the stair exercise the doula used a moby we have to wrap around my belly while I was on all fours, she shook it around…I felt like a shoe being polished or something- It was weird. (and oddly enough, had anyone been watching, this would not have been the weirdest thing I did over the course of these three days…)

Saturday morning.

The first cervical check of my pregnancy, only to hear I’m technically still in early labor. What. The. Hell. WHAT THE HELL, body?! Midwives lay out options to me, all while being very cautious to not suggest that I NEED to go to a hospital, but sometimes a little epidural and rest can move the body in the right direction. I pretty much didn’t respond to those statements, I said something along the lines of “let me think about this.” (which basically meant, I can’t even think right now, this is going to take a few minutes to process.)

Eventually I remember that hospital interventions, even the smallest and best of intentions ones, will decrease my chance at the VBAC I was looking to have. I am tired, not in medical need- not now.

“Get some rest.” Everyone but the doula leaves for a while. Our dear friend came back with mini muffins, and a “That was Easy” button.

The next thing I can place, besides one of the midwives showing up around 3:00, is the chiropractor making another home visit in the early-evening. It took a lot of time to get pants on to see her… The whole time she was working on me there was ravi shankar-type music playing.

At one point, Josiah said something like, “So, are we in active labor now?” and the doula responding quickly with “hush, we don’t say things like that.” I’m glad I didn’t know the answer..Because good god, I couldn’t handle it- I was handling this whole other thing, but I couldn’t handle the answer to that.

Lots of showers in the basement shower (where the shower is a step in-type, not a tub..) I HATED when the water went cold… I JUST GOT IN HERE, why is it cold already?! That means I had to go find somewhere else to handle these contractions.

Around 9:00-ish I got in the shower again for the last time. As the water started to turn cold I thought to myself, “this is it. I need to go the hospital..there will be a shower with endless hot water. I cannot do this anymore.” (sidebar, these are the rational thoughts I was having- Yes, It’s obviously time to travel 35 minutes to my preferred hospital for a shower with endless hot water.) I opened the shower curtain to see my doula sitting right there- thank goodness, I don’t have to use any energy to yell for her. I told her my thoughts, she said  “Okay, lets go find the midwives.” I stepped out the shower, contraction, water breaks. Oh. Oh..Kay. “Katie! Your water bag is breaking!” With that, you could hear the feet shuffling around in the house, suddenly there were more people around me. No meconium, check.

Guess what, contractions don’t feel better just because your water breaks. For some reason, before that, I thought “If my water would just break already then all the pressure will go away!” No, because it’s the baby causing the pressure, not a bag of water.

I spent the next couple hours changing positions. All fours, on my back (BLAGH) on my knees with my head on the ground, being held up by Josiah while I’m squatting…Sitting on the toilet, where I’ve spent a handful of hours laboring already, is the best. I eventually claim the toilet as my new home, because this it obviously where I’ll be forever-this is my life now.

One of my midwives suggests I may be able to feel Althea’s head with my finger if I try… She described it as, “you’ll feel something with your finger, inside you, but you won’t feel your touch because it’s not you you’re touching”…Which made sense before I did it, but when I did and said “I feel something.” “are you feeling it when you touch?” “no..” “Then that’s her head.”

That was insane! INSANE! She was so close…That was her head?! It was soft.

I started to actually feel the sensation of hunger again..I was brought trail mix, which was too crunchy. I was then brought a smoothie popsicle that I had prepared a few weeks before. It was delicious-FINALLY FOOD TASTES GOOD AGAIN!

With each contraction that came about one of the midwives would emphasize her “Good!”..It was like the harder I pushed the more excited her voice got, which was unexpectedly helpful. Each time I would think, “That was a good one, the midwife with the front row seat thinks that was a good one. Good. Keep doing that.”

“Stand up when you push her out.”

She missed friday the 13th, she missed valentines day- this baby wants her own day. February 15th at 1:47 am she busted out, face up, as soft and squishy as I felt earlier. I was so tired, I feel like I hardly could react. She was loud, which helped stir up the hormones and I suddenly felt more awake than I had in days…

(Insert: That Was Easy…)

So… I did it. I just had my second baby in my home. The vaginal birth after cesarean accomplished…In my home. All these labels that have been attached to this pregnancy were happening.

The placenta was delivered in a timely manner, the baby was in great shape…And we went to the closest bed to sit. (oh, and I immediately ate chipotle that was brought for me earlier that day, that I never ate…)



Josiah updating family and holding my food.


To give you a better idea of who was in our house for her arrival, there were our two midwives, an apprentice midwife, our doula, and the dear friend who took pictures-but also turned out to be a second-doula-figure. Another good friend brought chipotle (and, I believe, Starbucks) at one point on Saturday. It was interesting how everyone was wanting to help. Rather, it’s interesting to look back and know how much support and love there was in my house..I didn’t recognize it all at the time. I knew there wasn’t anything negative bothering me, but I still wasn’t able to see what was truly happening for us.

The day after she was born and I emerged into other places in our house I started remembering things that had happened… This is where I did those stair-drills, this is where our doula said, “You’ve gotta have a contraction in every room in the house!”

Before she was born, before I was in labor, I knew how important a birth team was. I knew that putting yourself in a setting that makes you comfortable would only help your body and mind labor. I had NO idea how important it would make me feel as a person, I had no idea how much I would NEED those people to survive. I wasn’t eating on my own, I wasn’t getting drinks on my own, I couldn’t use my brain to think…

These people did all of that for me. They made it so the only thing that I had to do was focus on Althea. That’s all. I could cry thinking about having my daughter in my home, but I actually cry when I think about all the people involved. Midwives that are knowledgeable, capable, caring and REAL women.. doula-friends that love me and Josiah.. And any babies we create. Friends and family that supported me because they know I’m capable of making choices for myself… I made the right choices..I picked the right people to surround me, and I have nothing to regret. It’s an amazing feeling.

And goodness, how lovely is it to love another child.