This birth story has taken a bit longer to get out there as it’s a journey that hits home. I was unable to be there as we are in Texas and she is in California and being so far into my own pregnancy kept me from making the trip. So this is the 7th doula baby and my 1st virtual doula baby 😉 I also haven’t done a story quite like this before. I wrote the pregnancy story and mama wrote her own birth story. ❤ Enjoy the story!
Blaine Patrick Craig born May 30th, 2016 7lb 6.5oz & 21″
I have been with Selena and Jason since the beginning of their journey to conceive. After years of trying to conceive, they were getting ready to give up. I convinced Selena that she should contact a Dr. and see if there were any issues stopping her from being able to get pregnant. They did all the testing but got no answers except that her preexisting medical conditions only give her a 2% chance of getting pregnant.
Month after month we worked through the disappointment, anger, sadness, and confusion of yet another negative pregnancy test. Struggling with infertility comes with battles all of its own. Not only do you have to deal with being let down every month, you also have to deal with people asking questions like “When are you having a baby?” When you tell them you’ve been working on it, and it’s just not happening those same people are really quick to move onto saying how you should enjoy the life you have and that everything happens for a reason. These are things people who have never struggled to get pregnant see as comforting, when really it’s just what comes out of their mouth when really can’t find the right words.
Selena decided that they were going to take a break from trying to conceive for a few months as the emotions were really starting to take a toll on her day-to-day life. Now, if you’ve ever known anyone struggling to get pregnant, you know that they never REALLY take a break. They always think about timing intercourse, what time of the month it is, when their period is going to come, and when it’s a day late, they start thinking about when they can take a pregnancy test. Their brain never stops. Until it does…
I was still living in Germany at this point and Selena was in California so my nights were her afternoons. One night, later than I would normally be awake, I checked my phone and saw a missed call and probably 15 text messages asking me to call as soon as I could. I got up and FaceTime’d her with one eye half open. The grin was huge, a smile from ear to ear. I was told to hang on while she went in the other room, since she was still at work. Next thing I knew, there was a little white stick blurrily being shoved in the camera while she fumbled to get the rest results in the right spot so I could see them. And then she said it… The words we had been waiting for, for years, finally came out of her mouth… “I’m pregnant” and the tears started to flow.
Knowing the feelings that come with FINALLY getting pregnant after years of being unsuccessful, there was still a lot to work through. There were so many thoughts of oh my god, what am I going to do, what if it doesn’t work out, what if I can’t do this, what if I couldn’t get pregnant and it was a sign that I shouldn’t, what if I’m a bad mom… The feelings just kept coming, and coming, and coming. We worked through them all, every single day.
The pregnancy was fairly smooth sailing with a few minor bumps in the road. Not knowing what pains were normal really worried Selena. I tried to be as reassuring as I could but being all the way in Germany and not knowing enough about her preexisting conditions, there wasn’t a lot I could say for sure. Just before the 20-week mark, she started experiencing abdominal pain that lasted for a long time, leaving her nauseous, unable to walk, feeling terrified, and asking me what to do. I’m very big on trusting your intuition. We talked about how if she was worried enough to be asking me what she should do then she should be going to the ER. It’s hospital policy that pregnant women go to the ER instead of Labor and Delivery before the 20-week mark as the pregnancy isn’t considered viable until you are 20 weeks. Of course upon getting to the ER, she was put on a list with everyone else there waiting to see a Dr. After waiting and waiting she was finally seen. They decided that she was having some minor contractions but because she wasn’t yet 20 weeks, there was nothing they could do for her. If she had been just a few more days into her pregnancy, she would have been admitted to labor and delivery and given medication to stop the contractions. They sent her home with orders to rest and just wait and see.
Everything worked out and that incident was really the only major thing that happened during her pregnancy with an exception of the disagreements with her hospital OB. Selena had wanted a birth on the more natural side. Hospitals, needles, medications, etc. just didn’t really appeal to her. They checked out the local birth center but decided that the out of pocket fee was too much. Their next discussion was a home birth with a midwife. Jason was not keen on this idea as his children from a previous relationship were born in the hospital and his daughter was born several weeks early and needed to stay in the NICU. Although he didn’t agree with a homebirth, he agreed to meet with the midwife. The meeting didn’t go very well. He didn’t go into the meeting with an open mind and still saw the hospital as the place to be when having a baby.
Selena, disappointed, continued her prenatal care at the hospital. We went over making sure she told the OB of her birth goals, explaining to them about her fear of needles and the zillion other things we had discussed. At this appointment, she realized that she was just going to be pushed through the Labor and Delivery ward as if she were just another animal in a heard of cattle. This feeling only made her disappointment grow. Her confidence in the ability to birth her baby the way she wanted to was gone and she was suddenly terrified of giving birth.
After another mishap with the staff at Kaiser, Selena had decided that she had enough. She cancelled all of her remaining prenatal appointments and kept telling me that she would just do this at home by herself. She knew that Jason would never go for the homebirth so she would just have to “accidently” have the baby at home. I urged her to talk to Jason and explain what happened at her last Drs. appointment and revisit the option to have a midwife at home. She complained to me and said there was no way he would go for it but we talked about how she would only know if she tried. Selena did end up talking to Jason about her appointment and he agreed to meet with the midwife again this time keeping an open mind. Selena also had Jason watch “The Business of Being Born” and it seemed to resonate with him and his mind became more open.
This second meeting with the midwife went great. Jason was able to ask all the questions he had and agreed that this seemed like a better option for their family. I remember waking up to a text that said “GUESS WHOSE HAVING A HOMEBIRTH!” That was a level of excitement I hadn’t seen for quite awhile. At 32 weeks pregnant, Selena switched to midwifery care and it seemed to change her whole outlook on labor and delivery.
The time after this seemed to go by a lot faster. Selena was excited to have her prenatal meetings with her midwife, which made the week go by quicker. Next thing she knew, the birth pool was being delivered and it was time to order the birth kit since she was finally cleared for her homebirth. For those who don’t know, you are not “cleared” to have a homebirth until you reach at least 36 weeks gestation as that is when the likelihood of the NICU being a necessity goes down. When Selena was 39 weeks, she decided that she was ready to go on maternity leave. Time slowed down again. Sitting and waiting is hard. 39 weeks quickly turned into 40 and 40 weeks turned into 41.
At about 40 weeks and 2 days, Selena was talking to her midwife about natural induction methods. She was instructed to start taking black and blue cohosh to help bring on contractions. It was also suggested that she start drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and begin using a breast pump to stimulate contractions. None of this was doing anything. There were no contractions, no signs of early labor, nothing to give Selena any hope that labor was coming any time soon.
When 41 weeks rolled around, Selena started to panic and thinking that she wasn’t going to get her homebirth since most midwives can’t deliver you past 42 weeks. She spent her days worrying that all this fighting to get her dream birth would be for nothing. I had a strong feeling hat her due date was wrong. I remember her telling me that her due date was one thing and then after another ultrasound it was changed. Kaiser was going off of the earlier date. At her next prenatal appointment with her midwife, she brought up the possibility of her due date being wrong. They reviewed her paperwork and decided that she was not 41 weeks pregnant but was really only 40 weeks pregnant. This would give Selena another 2 weeks to deliver, which made everyone feel a little bit better.
Memorial Day was approaching and that was the day Jason was supposed to go help their midwife move. We kept making jokes that because they had made plans for that day that was the day baby would decide to come. On May 29th, Selena finally took my advice to go swimming. Swimming is really beneficial when you’re pregnant since it is so low impact and the water helps lift some of the pressure the baby causes off. Since you’re out moving and the water lifts your belly, it helps give baby the opportunity to get into a better position. That night before bed she put castor oil and clary sage oil on her belly. This was a suggestion from the midwife which would help bring on contractions if her body was finally ready.
Around 6:30 am my time (4:30am in CA) I got a message from Selena on Facebook “I’m in labor.”
(At this time, Selena will take over writing the birth story)
I can remember waking up around 2am PST, with the need to void my bladder, AGAIN. I got up, went in the bathroom and began feeling some pretty intense cramps. Not thinking too much about it, I crawled back to bed. Approximately 30 minutes later I had to void again and the cramping was getting worse. After I wiped I saw it: bloody show!! The cramping was pretty intense by this point. I went back to my bedroom and bent over the side of the bed, I began to rock my hips and breathe slow and deep. This lasted another half hour before I knew it was really time. FINALLY! I reached over the bed, grabbed Jason’s leg and said “babe, this is it, it’s happening.” Jason opened his eyes and said “contractions?” “Yup.” was all I could get out. “How far apart?” “No idea every 5-7 minutes. It hurts.” Jason sat up with me until I started moaning around 4:15am. “Call the midwife let her know what’s happening” Jas said. “OK.” It was so early in the AM that I didn’t want to wake her so I sent her a text…even though I knew she would be ticked at me for not paging her. When a few minutes went by I texted my other midwife Laura, as well. She called me. I told her what was happening. “Call Claudette, let her know we are having a baby today, mama! I will see you soon.” Ugh. I didn’t want to wake Claudette! Even so, I called her and woke her up. “Mmm, hello?” “Claudette it’s Selena, I’m having contractions and bloody show.” “How far apart are the contractions?” “I don’t know every few minutes it’s really hurting bad.” Me breathing. “Ok, I can hear that the contraction is only lasting about 20-30 seconds. Lay down, get the heating pad out and call me when the contraction lasts 60 seconds.” Well, shit, I remember thinking. I was in so much pain I thought the baby was coming right now. “Alright, I think I am going to take a warm shower too Claudette.” “That’s good, do that. Call me back. I’ll see you soon. This is your first baby, we have lots of time.” In my head: NO! THERE’S NO WAY THERE’S TIME HE’S COMING NOW THIS PAIN IS SO INTENSE!! After I got off the phone I told Jas what was happening. He helped get me set up in bed on my side with the heating pad then he went downstairs to straighten up and prepare for the birth. At this point I messaged Caitlin on Facebook, I didn’t want to wake her up yet either. After that I jumped in the shower and rested my head against the wall as the contractions began to grow stronger. With each contraction I would vomit, I couldn’t control it, then I would get sleepy and nod off. Knowing this was dangerous since I was standing up in the shower, I decided to get out and lay back in bed with the heating pad. Before I could get to my bed however, I landed my behind straight on the toilet. Oh no. Diarrhea. Diarrhea and vomiting. How could it be that I am in this much pain and having issues already? I thought I would be able to sleep, relax, maybe eat. NOPE. This kid decided it was gonna be hardcore from the jump.
Jason came upstairs to check on me once I was able to stumble back into the bed. He asked how I was doing and I told him I wanted him to bring me my mascara, that I at least needed to put some of my face on. He said “no you don’t, that is ridiculous. You don’t need to put makeup on, just relax.” Boy was I mad. I knew I looked like crap and man did I feel like crap! However at this point the pain was so insane that I didn’t have the energy to argue.
The sun had begun to come out. That irritated me too. I was so hoping to have a night birth, in the dark. It was nearly summer in Santa Rosa and it was too damn hot in our apartment with no AC. Laying in bed I looked down at my phone and realized I was having contractions lasting longer than 60 seconds. I called Claudette and she said she would be on her way shortly and for me to keep breathing and resting. “Easy for her to say” was what was in my mind. Sorry Claudette!
At approximately 7:30am, my strong and powerful midwife Claudette came in. Relief!! She came upstairs and looked at me in the face. “Oh yeah hunny, you’re gonna feel all of it. You can do anything for 60 seconds, remember that. Do you want me to check you to see how far we are.” Pretty sure I mumbled yes please. “Yup, you’re at about a 4 and totally effaced.” A FOUR? WHAT? No. No. No. I need this over now…my son and my body had other plans for me that day.
Claudette said we had a ways to go and decided she was going to go and get the moving truck (even though Jas couldn’t help because I was fixin to have a baby.) She said she would be back soon and that Laura was on the way, too. I laid there in disbelief. My body continued to “freak out” as I call it, vomit, diarrhea, moan. I kept telling myself to breathe and go with the contraction and rock. Psh. Not that easy once you’re in the moment.
Laura came in around 8:30am. She came up the stairs to find me laying on the floor, on my side gripping the legs of my soon to be born son’s swing. Laura sat next to me and rubbed my legs (thank God I had shaved the day before) and said softly “how’s it going mama.” I let out a long and low moan. She told me what I great job I was doing. My body was able to let me mutter the words “pain and pool”. Laura asked me if I wanted to get in the birth tub. Oh hell yes I did. I could hear Jas say from downstairs “I’m filling it now.” He was doing so great. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth partner.
Laura helped me hobble down the stairs and into the tub. RELIEF! Holy moly that warm, wonderful water took my pain from about an 8 to a 5. Whew! I looked over and saw my sister in law and “virtual doula” looking at me through the screen of Jason’s computer. I knew she had texted me when I was upstairs but I was in so much pain I couldn’t even really respond. Jason knew how important she was to my birth plan, so he called her up and got her on FaceTime. Jason also was able to call Nana, my Grandmother, to tell her we were going to be having a baby that day. I had told Jason that Nana was the first call to make no matter what happened and he kept his promise to notify her first.
The next many hours are still a blur. I can’t remember everything. My best friend Alicia showed up to help the midwives and Jason. While laboring in the tub I would pass out between contractions. Jason would nudge the side of the tub and tell me I was snoring and Alicia would tell him to leave me alone because I needed rest. It felt strange, sitting in the tub, waiting for my body to decide the right time for Blaine to come out, knowing that these people were staring at me, waiting and wondering as well.
Around noon, I think, Claudette wanted me to go upstairs and try to labor in bed, because she was afraid labor was stalling from the tub. I had continued to throw up while in the birth tub and I was becoming dehydrated. So, we hobbled up the stairs to the bed. Laura came with the fan, because my apartment was getting to be like the 3rd level of Hell it was so hot. Once we all got upstairs Claudette checked my cervix. I was dilated to an 8 in the front and a 10 in the back. She said this happens to moms who have scar tissue and that I needed to NOT push when I had a contraction, because I was feeling the need to push. Can’t remember if this started downstairs or not, refer to Caitlin on that one. With the next contraction, Claudette had to manually open my cervix. My back labor was so intense and I was still vomiting (Alicia was trying to feed me popsicles and that wasn’t happening) so I was given Lime Coconut Water. Good God in heaven. So gross. My husband was putting the straw in my mouth and telling me to drink. Yuck.
Here’s the picture of my bedroom at this time: Claudette’s hand in my vagina, opening my cervix, Alicia holding my hand, Laura positioning the fan and wiping me because I was still having bowel movements as well, Jason trying to feed me the coconut water and me looking around for the computer!! “Jason where is Caitlin?” I asked. “Downstairs babe.” “Go get her I need her.” Next time I looked over, there was the MAC Book, with Caitlin smiling at me. I had all the most important people to me at that time, in my bed with me. Claudette kept telling me not to push, but I needed to and man it was hard not to. My body was automatically pushing. She told me that my cervix could swell up and we would have to start all over again. Very frustrating.
Eventually it grew too hot upstairs and I needed the bathroom again. Everyone decided a break was good and Claudette wanted me to come downstairs after bathroom time and try pushing on the laboring stool.
Here we go again, when I was done in the bathroom (Selena damn it don’t push, Claudette) I went to go back downstairs. One step and BOOM! Major contraction. Alicia said “Oh God Selena, don’t have this baby on the stairs, please don’t have the baby on the stairs!!” Claudette, from the bottom of the stairs goes “No this is great! Push him out, push Selena, it’s ok.” Well I pushed and he stayed in. Here we go down the stairs again, onto the birth stool or labor stool. Jason was over by the computer, talking to Caitlin. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently he was getting nervous and worried that the Midwives weren’t telling him something was wrong. Caitlin was doing her Doula thing and calming him, which I greatly appreciated. Onto the birth stool…..nope. Hated that thing. The back labor was too intense and I needed to lay down. Claudette wanted me to hang onto a sheet over my stair rails and pull. No effing way. Me standing up was NOT going to happen it was too painful and I was exhausted and hot. So, I laid on the carpet. Claudette shot some B12 into my thigh to keep me going, Jason was feeding me the damn Coconut water which at this point was too hot and I was so pissed he was making me drink it. At one point I said “shut the eff up, Jason.” to whatever he was saying about that nasty stuff.
It’s after 3pm and I’m on my back on my living room floor. Jason had one leg holding it and Alicia the other. Midwife Claudette had me playing tug of war with a sheet and Midwife Laura was snapping photos and wiping my rear end. Joy! I can’t remember the point of the tug of war, but I remember Alicia telling me she could see Blaine’s hair. I’m pretty sure I tried to say PULL HIM OUT THEN, but maybe that was just in my mind. Talking was so hard during labor, I really can’t believe how hard it was. The midwives had me try the birth stool. No way. That was so uncomfortable and hurt my rear end. After this and more tug of war, Alicia told me she had to get home to her babies. She said goodbye and said I love you. I laid on the floor, on my side and it felt like I was convulsing. Claudette allowed me to lay there for a moment, she was talking to Laura. I’m sure they were concerned about what was going on with my body and what the next step was to get Blaine out. I could feel my body changing though. Can’t explain it. I shouted “I NEED TO FUCKING PUSH!” and Claudette said “do it!” I laid on my side and pushed, hard. I could feel something move. I sat up and said “I need to get back in the pool, I can’t do this without the pool.” I got into the pool, bent over the side on my hands and knees and pushed with each contraction. These pushes felt different. The midwives were also in the kitchen, leaving me to do my thing, which helped. Jason stayed by my side, concerned. At one point I pushed and told Claudette that something felt different. I rolled onto my butt, spread my legs and pushed again. I was exhausted, it felt like I couldn’t go on and I needed a break. Claudette looked at Laura and then at me and said “Ok. You’ve been pushing for 4 hours. It’s 7pm, if the baby isn’t born by 7:30pm we need to go to the hospital, it isn’t safe for him.” No. NO. NO NO NO NO!! I wanted my son born at home in this damn tub, no freaking way am I going to a hospital. Then I thought to myself, how the hell are they going to get me out of here? There’s no way I can move!!
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and placed my right leg over the side of the birth tub and lifted my left leg to a 90 degree angle. On the next contraction I was going to push, hard and deep. No longer would I care about tearing I would push until my son was out. I felt the contraction coming and I PUSHED eyes closed. Moaning and spreading my legs as far as I could. I could hear Claudette get up, move around to the front of the tub to see between my legs and I could hear her say “Yup.” Laura said to me, “there you go mama, you got this. You are strong and fierce, do it. Don’t stop.” I got ready to push again but Jason wasn’t with me. He was in the kitchen on the phone. Claudette told him to get off the damn phone and come watch his son be born. Jason replied to her “But I can’t hang up on Nana!” “Jason”, I said “tell Nana I love her and we will call her when this is over get your ass over here now.” Jason hung up and came over to my right side and grabbed my hand. Next contraction I pushed HARD and LONG. I kept breathing so I could keep pushing. “There’s his head Selena, you got it!” Pretty sure I let out a yell. Tried to push again. “Selena, don’t push if you’re not having a contraction.” All I could picture was Blaine’s head sticking halfway out and then going back inside and me having to go through this all over again. Suddenly, the wave came over me, the next contraction, push! His head was out! Everyone was cheering, even Jason. It was so awesome and I had a burst of energy. Last contraction BOOM!!! Out came Blaine, I threw my head back. When I lifted it I could see Claudette holding him up in the air, the cord was wrapped around him several time, neck and body. In the blink of an eye Laura and Claudette got him unwrapped and tossed him on my chest. No vernix!! I looked down at him and kept telling him I loved him. The midwives were rubbing him with receiving blankets, sucking his throat and cleaning him while he was on me, then he cried out. The midwives cheered and told him to keep on crying. I was in total shock. I looked over to find Jason, he was in the kitchen, bent over the counter, his shirt up over his eyes, he was crying. I looked back at Blaine. Holy mother of God, I did it. WE did it. My son was in my arms and he was doing great. My midwives kept telling me to keep holding him up, hold him up out of the water, he was in too far. I didn’t think I had enough left in me to hold my son. He wasn’t breast crawling either he was just staring at me. I wanted Jason to take the baby, I didn’t want to drop him in the water but I couldn’t verbalize that. Jason knelt down and hugged me and kissed me on top of my head “You did it babe, you did it.” I felt so proud. Having my husband acknowledge everything I had gone through to carry our child and birth him safely at home like I wanted meant so much to me. I closed my eyes, put my hand on his neck and could feel our son against my chest. There are no words to describe this feeling. Laura took a great photo of the moment. Then Claudette came around to see Blaine and ask me how I was doing. You would think I would’ve become emotional earlier but no. Once I saw her, all the emotion came out. It was because of her and her kindness and her knowing how badly we needed to have our son at home, that we were able to afford to do it. She took us under her wing, taught us about the process, natural herbs and remedies and kept me strong through labor. I’ll never forget when she told me “You can do anything for 60 seconds, remember that.” Claudette told me how proud she was of me, that I overcame all the negativity and doctor BS to have the birth I wanted. That I powered through and brought my son safely earth side. Claudette also explained to me that Blaine had come down the birth canal with his arm up and bent over his face, causing me pain and making it difficult to get him under my bone. She also concluded that at some point he went breech, which is why he was so wrapped up in his cord. “The next baby won’t be this difficult, it’ll be much easier for you,” she said. Nope. Nope. Nope, was all I could mutter! LOL We took some photos.
Suddenly I felt almost like an itching or a burning in my vaginal area. I shifted my bottom and told the midwives “something feels funny.” I pushed. Out shot my placenta in one piece. Laura said “oh shit!” She grabbed my placenta and went to put it in the bowl, somehow, the placenta dropped on my legs, blood was everywhere. Normally I would vomit. I don’t do blood and I sure as hell didn’t want to see my placenta. She picked it up in the bowl and there we were: Mommy, Blaine and the blue tub with the placenta in it floating around the birth tub.
The cord stopped pulsing around 30 minutes or so after I had the baby. It was time to cut the cord, I didn’t have the stomach for that so Claudette helped Jason cut the cord while I was still in the tub. After that it was time for me to get out and go on the couch. I felt great. I laid on the couch with Blaine, trying to get him to latch and FaceTiming with my doula and sister-in-law, Caitlin. My Siamese cat Prince jumped up on the couch to check everything out, too!
The midwives started to clean up and make food. I didn’t want anything, just a coke! Claudette made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich got me a coke and water and I relaxed on the couch for a few more minutes. I was hot and tired. Jason took Blaine and did skin to skin with him and I glanced over to see my husband and the baby on the stairs, taking photos, Jason cooing at the babe. I giggled. My husband was the happiest I had ever seen him. At this point I told Laura and Claudette that the couch sucked and I wanted to go upstairs. Different fluids were leaking from my body and I knew I needed a different position. They weren’t quite sure that I was going to be able to climb the steep stairs to our bedroom, but I felt fine and wanted to be closer to the bathroom and in the bed. So up we went, Laura helping me up, Claudette making the most awesome pillow type fort I have ever seen on my bed, Jason standing in the corner, snuggling Blaine. Laura may have brought the computer upstairs as well so Caitlin could stay with us. Pretty sure my brother was on as well. I went to bathroom. That was ouch. Small needle prick feeling sensation. Laura made me a periwash rinse with warm water and something else to help me heal, showed me how to use it and clean up. Put on my granny panties and a big pad. So sexy. Walked back to bed and got all propped up. We noticed I had some blood on my ankles from when I was leaking downstairs, so Laura actually washed my feet and ankles.
Then it was time to do my check up. Claudette wanted to make sure I didn’t tear. I asked her “I can decline stiches, right?” She said “You are such a pain in the ass, but yes you can.” After a good check and double check, she told me I didn’t tear. Hallelujah! Minor “skid marks” and one little knick, that was it. Phew. All that Vitamin C worked! After that we did Blaine’s checkup. Before we weighed him and measured him we took guesses. He ended up being 7lbs 6.5 oz and 21″. Long and lanky! Daddy did the honors of putting his first diaper on him and his first onesie, Batman.
Shortly after, my incredible midwives said goodbye. We exchanged I love you’s and thank you’s. These women had become an essential part of my life and my family’s life. It was sad having them leave.
They closed the door behind them, Jason crawled in bed with me and with Blaine and there we were: the Three Musketeers. Ready to being our lives together as one.