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  • Cindi Denbow

The Homebirth of Bastian

The Birth Story of Bastian

I am really good at quitting. There are so many things I have started and gave up on. I get discouraged easily and once my confidence wavers I assume I'll never be able to accomplish or be good at the task, so I quit.

In one of the first conversations Cameron and I had reflecting on Stella's {birth} we decided no matter what it took we would choose a well qualified midwife to attend our next child's birth, preferably at home. I knew I had to do whatever it took to make sure I didn't quit on natural child birth. I threw myself into preparations as soon as I knew I was definitely pregnant. I revisited the same techniques I used for Stella's birth, but with more fervor. I re studied self hypnosis (deep relaxation) using the Hypnobabies method. I read Ina May's books Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May's Guide to Child Birth They include several great birth stories and information on the mind/body connection). I watched every natural birth video and read every birth story I could find, focusing on births that used water and self hypnosis for pain management.I saw my chiropractor every other week. I stretched and stayed active. My husband and I worked through a lot of issues, most often through intense arguments. I asked God to show me my fears and we worked through them through prayer, journalism and worship.

I preface our birth story with this because although I believe any woman can give birth naturally in pretty much any circumstance with little or no knowledge about natural birth, I felt that to give myself the best possible opportunity and experience it was necessary to work on all of the baggage and negativity about my body and birth that have built up in my mind and heart . I had 20 years of negative images and experiences I had to deal with. I wanted to fully surrender to God's design for birth. The result? Overall, I had a extremely comfortable, enjoyable experience. It was magical, actually.

On June 30th I was at 40 weeks 3 days. I drove up to Gentle Birth Options for an appointment. I think it was at 10 AM. My midwife swept my membranes, with my permission, to get things kick started. I called Jessie, my friend and doula from Stella's birth, to let her know things could get rolling anytime. My mom and youngest brother were hanging out with Stella at my house. We decided to go to the Thai market to get some last minute ingredients for my post postpartum meal. At 2:30, I walked out the door chatting with Jessie on the phone and felt an involuntary release of fluid. My shorts were soaked. I looked at my mom and exclaimed, "I think my water just broke!" The phone calls started: midwife, Cameron, dad, etc. My mom took video of me blowing up my birthing tub. Cameron arrived and as a team we straightened up the house, prepped food, and I finished preparing the birthing room. I wasn't feeling anything but braxton hicks like pressure.

When Jessie got into town she headed over and I decided I wanted a little mommy time, so the two of us headed up to Starbucks which is a 2 minute drive from my house. When we walked in we saw some familiar faces....my birth team!!! It was such a surprise. Cindi, my midwife, was on her way. They had me walking around Uptown Station to help speed things along. We ended up heading back to Starbucks and chit chatting for a while. It was fun to experience them outside of appointments and La Leche League meetings. Around 9:30 PM we headed to the house to see how things were going. I was still really comfortable and feeling minimal pressure.

When we got home I took the opportunity to spend some time hanging out with Cameron while my dad and birth team watched Orgasmic Birth. Ha ha! That must have been an interesting experience for him. I'm just glad I wasn't watching it with him.(by the way, when I refer to birth team I'm speaking of my midwife, the 3 birth assistants, Jessie, and the photographer, it's just easier than listing everyone)

Stella became very enamored with and attached to Jessie that night, and when she left to go nurse her daughter at home Stella freaked out. She was exhausted and SO much was happening. I haven't heard her scream like she did but a couple times in her life. I took her into my room and rocked her to sleep singing the Barney song. I felt it coming. I rushed over to the tile and more water was released. A HUGE gush this time. All the while singing "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family..." and rocking back and forth. Stella fell asleep in my arms while all of this happened, so Cameron came and took my bottoms off and wiped me down. I put her in bed and told the team the news. I think that I went to the back again to relax, but I still felt only minimal pressure. I thought if I wasn't trying so hard to "feel" something I would relax better and get things going. When I came out into the living room Cindi encouraged my family and I to get some rest. I have to admit I was bummed. I was so ready for everything to happen that night, but the reality was I was still in early labor. They were going to go check on a momma in Crestview. I think it was around 11 PM at that point.

Cameron put my Hypnobabies CD's in and blew out all but one candle. He was so supportive. We relaxed in bed, he rubbed my back, and each time I felt pressure he embraced me and told me "peace." I dozed off a few times, but couldn't sleep through the pressure waves. Stella woke up at some point and he brought her in our bed. Our last night as a family of three.

I woke up at 3 AM and knew things were picking up slightly. My dad has this amazing walk in shower with a rain-like shower head. I alternated between taking showers and sitting on an exercise ball, all the while listening to Fleet Foxes and Joni Mitchell. Singing, rocking, squatting. This was one of my favorite moments of the whole experience. I was alone, naked, fully woman, encouraging my son to make his presence. Comforting myself with movement and song.

Then I had a bowel movement. I knew it wasn't him coming, but at the same time I couldn't help but think about those women that didn't know they were pregnant who go to the bathroom and out pops a baby! Haha, so I had a little nervousness getting through that. Afterwards it was reassurance that my body really was getting ready. I kept having to tell myself "This is really happening. You are really going to have another baby. Soon."

Around 5 AM I woke Cameron. I needed my midwife and birth team. I was getting uncomfortable and wanted to get into the tub, but had to wait for them to arrive. He called, and they let him know they were going to deliver a baby in a few minutes and would head over as soon as possible. I woke up Jessie to let them know they were on their way. I felt so bad that they would have no sleep, but once they arrived you could hardly tell.

I got into the pool and it was very relaxing. There was a sweet moment when Stella came in. I had an orange storage tub for birth supplies that was empty. She sat in it with one of her babies. Her own birthing pool just like mommy. It made my heart so happy to see her, but Cindi suggested that there was too much action going on for me to focus, so Jessie took her out to my mom and dad. I'm pretty sure everyone else left so Cameron and I could be by ourselves again. Time went on. I was still so comfortable in the water, but something was worrying me. I kept thinking to myself, "This still doesn't feel as intense as it should." I couldn't figure out if I was just so relaxed because of the self-hypnosis or if I wasn't progressing. I had someone get Cindi and expressed my concern to her. She recommended squatting. Out of the pool and onto the ball. They gave me a washcloth with clary sage (oh it smelled wonderful!) to strengthen my contractions, I used my breast pump and squatted on the ball. When the pressure waves came I would lean back into Cameron and felt 100 times stronger. At this point I felt a little uneasy, but not because of pain. I really didn't want to be transferred after all of this. I kept asking myself "What if I don't progress?! Things have got to get going." Cindi suggested that maybe my water wasn't completely released and that Bastian's head could be acting like a cork keeping it in. So, I agreed to have her check and if that was the case she was going to release them the rest of the way. She did , and let me know I was about 6 cm. I was so relieved. All during Stella's birth the only thing I ever heard was "You're still a 1" So hearing I was over halfway dilated was very encouraging.

The pressure picked up really fast, so I asked to get back into the pool. Oh, sweet relief. I never envisioned wanting Cameron in the water with me, but I looked at him and said, "I need you in here." He changed into his swim trunks and sat behind me rubbing my back, telling me "peace" (this is a hypnobabies technique) and embracing me. I think for most of the time I was leaning forward on the side of the pool. I started to feel pushy and kept it to myself for a few contractions to make sure. I was in disbelief that I could be so relaxed and so close to pushing. Wasn't I supposed to be screaming and begging for relief in transition? I started "Ahhhhing" with the waves. At some point I think I said out loud I was ready to push, although I'm sure they already knew that's what was happening.

I leaned back into Cameron. This is where things got hard for me. My bottom kept floating up making it hard for me to get a grip on bearing down. I kept feeling him make his way out and then go back in. I got discouraged by it and thought, "Okay, buddy how long are we going to do this for? I'm freaking exhausted!" I remember feeling myself and trying to feel his head to get some sort of assurance that he was really down there and really coming out. He was :-)

Jessie was on one side of the pool holding my hand and Michelle (birth assistant) on the other reminding me of my strength, to keep my jaw loose, and reassuring me that I was doing it. I looked up and made eye contact with my chiropractor thinking to myself "When did she get here?!" I have to stop and say something about these three women. I am of course balling my eyes out right now thinking of them. Becoming a mother is an indescribable experience. I never expected to embrace motherhood the way I have. They have each been so encouraging and inspiring to me on this journey, especially in the early days of being a first time mom. Jessie referred me to Sarah for chiropractic care and La Leche League meetings which is where I met Michelle. Michelle showed me how to use my Moby Wrap after I expressed to her I couldn't figure out how to use the darn thing and I have always admired her and her beautiful smile. She just lights up any room she's in! I've always felt thankful for their kindness, patience and sisterhood-like commitment to women. La Leche League meetings were all I looked forward to for a long time so I could be surrounded by so many amazing, like-minded women. They introduced me to a great community. When I felt like an outcast for my parenting and lifestyle choices, these women helped me keep my chin up with their stories. They each do so much for our community professionally and by setting an example. Everyone has heroes....imagine having several of yours cheering you on at your birth. I felt like a...I don't know - queen, VIP, goddess? During birth? Yes.

I don't think I pushed for too long. It certainly felt long. I remember cracking my neck (twice) and then opening my eyes, making eye contact again with *gasp* my chiropractor! I told her "I'm sorry but it felt good." I also joked about my huge behind. "You would think as huge as my butt is it wouldn't float up" We all laughed. Laughing felt good. I felt really discouraged at one point and told Bastian, "I just want to hold you." I asked if someone could go get my parents and Stella once his head came out. Once I got his head out I honestly just wanted someone to pull him out of me. I remember Cindi telling me I needed to push and I think I even said something like, "Can you just pull him out?" Everything is blurry here, but I remember hearing Stella coming down the hall and seeing a glimpse of my parents. They got me to come forward, telling me to push... I guess I pushed? because the next thing I know I hear, "Sabrina, grab your baby!"

I looked down in the water and there he was floating around. I grabbed him, pulled him to my chest and experienced pure joy. We did it.

I had to get out of the pool. The cord was super short so I was having trouble. They had me lay down on the floor and the placenta just slid right out. Jessie was supporting me from behind. They went ahead and let Cameron cut the cord since it was so short. They cleaned me up and got me into the bed. It was so blissful. I held him on my chest and worked on nursing right away. My dad mentioned afterward that it was very awe inspiring to see them all working together. In no time the room was cleaned up, Cindi checked Bastian out and Michelle helped me with nursing.

Cindi left to go check on the other mom, and the birth assistants finished everything up. They gave me a tour of the placenta. They did a placenta print. And...they made me a placenta smoothie, at my request. It's not as gross as it sounds! It wasn't gross at all actually. They took a thumb size piece and blended it with a bunch of fruit and yogurt. It tasted just like a berry smoothie, no placenta taste at all. :-) They also took the rest of my placenta and encapsulated it for me, so I could take it as a pill. My first "meal" was a cup of the broth my mom and I made. I eventually had a full bowl of Kuey Teow (no idea if that is the correct spelling - Thai noodle soup) Much better than hospital food, and my mom made it perfect! I sat on frozen pads that were soaked in herbs and witch hazel. My recovery felt so fast. I felt amazing. We even went to Harborwalk for fireworks 3 days later! Besides that I just slept, ate, and nursed Bastian thanks to my amazing husband and family. They cooked and cleaned and entertained Stella. She is a fabulous big sister and loves him to pieces, her Batchy.

I am beyond blessed to have the support I had for his birth. My midwife and birth team will forever be like family. I don't know how I could ever fully express my gratitude for all of their work and dedication. Even my dad said, "I think planning this home birth is one of the best decisions you've ever made." Birth is beautiful miracle, and I'm so thankful I was able to do it safely at home with women who believe in birth and allowed me to experience it to the fullest.

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