The night Della was born…
July 13, 2014 - the “guess” date for Della’s arrival. Having been through this once before, I knew it was unlikely that this would be the actual day she was born. But it was.
It was a Sunday - like many others - and my husband, 4-year-old daughter and I packed up some snacks, towels and sunscreen and headed to our favorite pool in the Redwoods of the East Bay.
We swam for a few hours and I remember feeling like Della was getting pretty close. I was “feeling” things for sure, though it wasn’t anything dramatic or telling like my water breaking or losing my plug. I was feeling like the baby was going to fall out and a whole lot of pressure on my cervix, but no official contractions yet.
I was determined this time to remain patient and not give in to the anxiousness of knowing my baby could come very soon. I just kept on about the day - business as usual.
In fact, this birth story may even seem kind of boring since there are no dramas to speak of. We really did have a normal family Sunday. We went swimming, had lunch, watched the final World Cup game, played outside, had dinner ... and then had a baby and went to bed.
I love to tell people that when they inquire about how this home birth business works. Della’s birth was over in about 4 hours. And it really was like a MASH unit came in (Liesl and team), helped me through the pushing and first hours of her life, cleaned up, helped me shower and eat and then left us in a nice quiet home to sleep.
Blood, sweat and tears? Of course. But, thankfully, no emergencies or drama.
The actual labor part went something like this:
My contractions had started to get intense as I was folding laundry after dinner. Being a second-timer at this, I simply continued to fold clothes between them. I figured I would know when it was time to get serious and put this basket away.
Some time around 8 p.m., I started to feel like it was time to alert everyone what was happening. I called Liesl and let her know how long I’d been feeling contractions, as well as their intensity. She wisely said to take it easy and call her when they were getting more intense.
Right around this time was when my husband, Mekuria, and I decided to try to put our other daughter, Addi, to bed. We could always send her off to our neighbor’s house if she woke up, or if the labor lasted through morning.
So off to sleep she went. And with that, my body got the message that I was clear for takeoff because things started progressing really quickly after that.
I tried to go to the bathroom and found that I could not sit down. We called Liesl again and let her know time was now precious. While she headed over to our house, I laid on my side on the bed and asked Mekuria to start filling the birth tub.
While my first daughter was very much a “back labor” experience, Della was nearly all in my hips.
With Addi, I remember not wanting to sit or lay down. Rather, I sort of leaned over my exercise ball and the dresser in our bedroom. It was countless hours of trying different things with our doula at home while my cervix dilated.
With Della, though, none of those positions felt right. Instead, I continued to lay on my left side and breathe and moan through contractions until the midwife team arrived.
I remember hearing from others how the second labor can go much faster than the first. But I didn’t realize how true that would be for me. Only an hour or so into serious contractions I started feeling the urge to push.
I held onto that feeling until Liesl and team arrived. They checked my progress and gave me the greenlight to get into the tub.
The pain in my hips had been pretty intense up to that point. When the warm water hit my waist, it was such a relief - like a Victorian woman removing her corset and finally breathing with ease.
“Can I push?” I remember saying.
And with the first sound of the “yes” in reply, I pushed so hard it was nearly over already.
“Great! Great job! I can see the head already. One more push and she’ll be out.”
And so one more push and Della was out. 10:56 p.m.
I warned you this was a low-drama story. There were tears, of course. But what a wonderful experience to have Della at home - where we all belonged during and after such a life-changing event.
The best part - aside from the amazing care I received from my midwives throughout the entire pregnancy and crucial postpartum weeks - was waking up in our home. I’ll never forget waking up Addi and telling her her little sister was sleeping in the next room.
If you’d told my 20-year-old self that one day I’d be giving birth in my bedroom with no doctors, machines or pain killers, I’d have laughed.
But that’s exactly how Della came into this world. And I wouldn’t change a thing.