29 Aug Our Home Birth Story | Winsla Faith | March 17, 2017
This post is a rather long and detailed account of the pregnancy + birth of our daughter, Winsla Faith. She was born on March 17, 2017 and I am just now getting around to sharing the images of her beautiful birth. I was lucky enough to have my dear friend Regan (from the talented Regan Elizabeth Films) there to document this life changing event through photos and video. Thank you Regan!! As the days have passed since her birth I found that the details were slipping away and I needed a place to record it all. So below all the images I’ve left a bit of a novel for anyone interested in reading the extremely detailed account of her entry into the world. (So basically all those pregnant moms out there).
And for those wondering, yes. Its fairly PG rated images below. You’re free to proceed. 😉
That last image cracks me up!! We didn’t get a diaper on her in time for her first poop so our heroic midwife caught it in her hand and our photographed happened to snap a photo of it…haha!
Now for the story:
I never intended to have a home birth for my first baby, though Andrew and I consider ourselves fairly “granola”, eco conscious people. We eat semi organic, homemake all our cleaning products, Andrew works for a health food company, and in general we try to stay away from chemicals of most sorts. But in the years leading up to my pregnancy I often thought, “bring on the hospital and the drugs! I have no idea what to expect and I’m terrified!!” But thanks to a handful of brave women, I was able to photograph some home births (HERE) and was absolutely mesmerized by the experience. Combine that with mostly terrible local hospital options along with high csection rates and I was motivated to seek out an in between option. I found a birth house in Delray beach, called The Palms Birth House and liked the reviews and positive feel of the place. At our first meeting the midwife informed us that there wasn’t much of a difference between having our baby at the birth center or having it at our home, provided there was a good hospital close by in the rare case of needing to make a transfer. The same equipment and supplies were at both places.
“Well,” I thought, “I am obsessed with my gallery walls in my home and they would make the most amazing backdrop for a birth… so let’s do it at home!” Yes, I know…the monumental decision to have our baby at home was decided by the rather superfluous factor of decor and photography setting. Very typical Lydia for those who know me personally. 😉
My pregnancy with Winsla was interesting to say the least. I originally thought I had a UTI and was planning to go to a doctor to confirm it. Early that July morning of my appointment I decided to take a pregnancy test just in case, (I had taken one previously and it was negative). Absolute shock coursed through my body when those two little positive lines materialized. Happy tears were definitely dripping down. Andrew and I were beginning to want a baby after hitting our five year goal of no kids and I was so grateful it happened quickly for us. I wanted a girl sooo bad after having grown up with three lovely brothers and no sisters (I just knew God wouldn’t be so cruel to withhold yet another girl) and yet I didn’t want to be disappointed if it was a boy, so those first few months I only looked at boy names, boy baby clothes, boy decor, and pictured myself having a little boy. When we had our gender results we had a present wrapped with one of two outfits and opened it up on facetime with both sets of our parents. I could hardly believe it when I pulled out that girl outfit! I momentarily felt a slight twinge of disappointment that it wasn’t a boy. Yet moving on proved to be pretty easy and I accredited to the heavens that God was indeed kind. 😉
I was feeling pretty good through week six and thought that, like my mom I was going to be spared that annoying morning sickness. Um, i was sadly wrong! I had nausea until I was about 26 weeks along. I couldn’t stand the smell of food cooking, or eat cooked vegetables. All I wanted was white bread and cheese, raw vegetables, and sushi. Sea bands, ginger chews, the occasional Unisom, and constant eating became my best friends. It was a HOT summer in 2016. Between that and my nausea I didn’t really want to venture outside much, even to the beach. So I watched alot of the tv show Friends while laying on the couch. Eventually it did go away and I had one happy month in my second trimester before heartburn hit full on. Papaya Enzymes, sleeping sitting up, straight apple cider vinegar shots, and seeing the chiropractor regularly were my new best friends.
I was paranoid about going over my due date by two weeks and ending up with a forced induction in the hospital (Florida by law induces at 42 weeks). I was constantly listening to several podcasts on positive birth stories and on one of them someone mentioned eating 5 dates a day in your last trimester to help soften the cervix, and to take evening primrose oil. So I did it all, along with walks every day, and plenty of coconut oil and avocados in my diet…I’m pretty sure that is what contributed to my rather petite self having an 8lb, 4oz baby. 😉
Andrew and I took a birth class called Hypno birthing to help prepare for the birth. I was doing plenty of relaxation meditation and deep breathing practice those last few weeks. I ended up being four days late, just as my midwife predicted. On Wednesday, March 15, around 1ish I went on a walk around the neighborhood. I hadn’t felt anything up to this point except what I thought might have been BraxtonHicks but that had been happening for months. After my walk I decided that I was going to bake our little Miss Mango (her constant nickname up to this point since she was still nameless) a birthday cake in hopes of enticing her out. So I made a paleo strawberry cake from my favorite Celebrations, (Against All Grain) cookbook. Around 3pm I had what I now know was my first contraction, low in my abdomen, below my belly button. It was rather painful and more started coming. As I was baking I started timing them and they were very sporadic, some every 15-40 min or sometimes 5min apart. But I found myself having to get on my hands and knees while deep breathing to get through them. All evening long I sat on the birth ball, just trying to relax. I tried watching the movie Cool Runnings to help distract my self but it definitely didn’t work. (I know, SO random, but its what I wanted in the moment! haha). The whole evening I was doubting if I was actually in labor since this pain didn’t feel like what I expected. I thought contractions would start out mild and get more intense but these were intense from the very beginning. Throughout my whole labor the intensity stayed mostly the same until about the last two hours when it really kicked up.
I tried to go to sleep around 10pm and tossed and turned for hours. Eventually I took a shower and moved to the recliner. As the night went on it became harder and harder to sit down anywhere unless I was reclining back. Andrew was up and down throughout the night with me and eventually moved to the couch to sleep. I finally fell asleep for an hour or two around 5am. At 7am I got up and went to take another shower. As soon as I started walking to the bathroom the contractions started coming rapidly, every 3-5min. We started timing them and decided it was time to call our doula, Bonnie (With Coastal Doulas). While waiting for her to arrive we continued to time them for an hour and they stayed consistent so we gave our midwife, Elizabeth, a call and she started to head our way. Shortly after that I threw up and the contractions kept coming faster and faster. So we gave her another call and said “please hurry!” (She had over an hour drive to us).
Bonnie arrived and as soon as she walked through the door I felt immediately more relaxed. She was the most wonderful and calming presence. Hiring her was by far the best decisions we made in planning this birth. Up to that point I had been managing the contractions ok but was really struggling to stay calm…and Andrew was being a great support but didn’t have the skills of experience on his side to know how to help me. Once she arrived, my immediate coping mechanism was to hold her hand during a contraction (for 12 hours, God bless her!) and look into her eyes while she told me to breath, I could do it, I had what it takes, etc. Any thing positive and distracting. I loved how she would take her hand and push my shoulders down and smooth out my frown and rub my jaw to help me relax when I was tensing and didn’t realize it. Being an introvert I was very surprised that this was how I ended up laboring! Being left alone with my eyes closed was the worst thing possible for me and I had thought that I would for sure prefer that. Andrew spent most of the time holding my other hand, and being that steady and solid rock of encouragement that he is so known for. He also managed our birth team as they arrived and really helped keep the flow of things going. An hour into Bonnie arriving I threw up again from the pain unfortunately.
When Elizabeth arrived around 11am, she checked me and our girl was sitting SO LOW at + 2. Basically her head was right there, ready to come out, but I was only dilated to 5cm…which was a bummer and surprising based on the intensity of it all. But it explained why my favorite way to labor was sitting backwards on the toilet, resting my head on a pillow and why there was no way I could sit down on any surface. It also explained why the pain felt like it was in my rear. I basically had butt labor the entire time! Since she was so low and everything was progressing so quickly everyone started setting up for a delivery and we called Regan, our videographer and told her to come. My mom had just arrived after getting up super early and driving for seven hours. She was feeling fortunate that she’d made it just in time. Surely we’d have a baby by early afternoon…………
Early afternoon came and went. And then late afternoon came and went. And then evening came and went. And then night came. And no baby. None. Natta. But I digress. Let me back up.
When Elizabeth came she set up the birth pool in our living room and getting in it felt amazing. I spent a few hours in the water but sadly it seemed to slow my labor significantly. So I was coaxed out (I repeat, SO SAD) and made to labor in all these interesting positions to help me dilate faster since I hadn’t progressed much. In between I was joking about how mean everyone was to make me do a rotation of all these terribly painful positions and exercises when all I wanted to do was sit on the toilet backwards to labor. The whole entire time our little Miss Mango had a perfectly strong and healthy heartbeat so there wasn’t much to be done except to continue shifting positions and relaxing. My contractions stayed pretty consistently three to four minutes apart most of the time. I had made a birth playlist that played the entire time. I tried to eat and drink throughout the day but ended up needing fluids via an IV along with my antibiotics for group B strep. From about 2pm to 10pm really feels like a blur. Time didn’t really exist in that state…I just lived from contraction to contraction and was semi aware that it was taking FOREVER but not really aware that it was. I kept involuntarily trying to push since it felt like I had to poop for the entire 34 hours. Real fun.
My amazing chiropractor, Hayley Miller dropped in multiple times to adjust my hips to help my pelvis open up more (and she ended up staying for the birth, God bless her!) Elizabeth checked me several times and by 7pm I had made it to eight centimeters. They decided to have me take a little break and just lay in bed alone with Andrew for a little reset, which really helped because at that time I was starting to feel pretty discouraged. Once I got up we tried nipple stimulation with the pump and then Andrew and I took a shower together to see if that would help. At 11pm my midwife checked me again and told me I was still at 8cm!! At that moment I really felt so crushed. It had been four hours stuck at 8cm with no progress. Her heartbeat was still perfect, which was always a relief. In that moment I am pretty sure I remember saying that I couldn’t do this anymore, I needed an epidural, and I would be fine with a Csection. In my heart I knew that I wasn’t getting any of those options but it felt good to say it and momentarily give up. Up until this point, her head was so low and pressing to tightly down that there was no way to manually break my water without poking her head. But finally, a little bulge appeared and Elizabeth was able to break my water! My water breaking felt amazing! So much relief momentarily. And then those contractions kicked up really high in the intensity…like, really high. I was able to get back in the water and within an hour I was dilated to a 10 and ready to push her out. In keeping with the theme of the day of drawn out experiences, it took me well over an hour to push that chubby little muffin out. I did not feel confident in how to push her out and had expected my body to naturally move her down. Yeah, there was no gently breathing her down. (thanks hypnobirthing for not much) I strained and grunted my way through it. But if I put my hand down there I could feel her head move each time I pushed and that was a huge motivator!
The love of music is such a huge part of my life. I listen to all kinds, ranging from techno experimental, 1920s jazz, pop, folk, opera…basically anything but heavy metal rock and country music. So I pored hours into making the perfect playlist for the birth and often visualized her being born to all sorts of different songs. The first song I added was called “No Longer Slaves” by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser. It’s about how we are children of perfect love, manifest in God and we don’t have to live in fear. This song came on right when I was at my lowest point of pushing her out, and feeling the fear of this new experience which was making me hold back. It could not have been more perfect and gave me that confidence that I could do this. Granted it was still about four songs later before she came out, but I had that come to Jesus moment, and that was what I needed.
I finally pushed her out in a beautiful pool of water in my living room, with my gallery walls behind me and Gregory Alan Isakov playing “Astronaut” in the background (my all time favorite artist). The time was 1:09am and my girl had just barely slid into a March 17th, St. Patricks day birthday. It was a magical and shocking moment. Seriously, I felt in shock that she was on my chest. It took her a few moments to cry as I was trying to catch my breath and Andrew, who was in the pool with me, was crying and laughing with a steady stream of snot running down his nose. He kissed her on the head and announced, “She’s here to disrupt our lives in a glorious way!” Quite accurate darling. 😉
I just held her close, straining my neck to get a good look at her. She looked so different then I expected! She was so BIG. I had weighed in at barely 5 pounds full term and Andrew wasn’t much bigger so I expected to have a little peanut. But there she was weighing 8lbs and 4oz, feeling like velvet, and a head full (kind of) of dark hair. She opened those eyes and stared up at me and in that moment our obsession with each other began.
It was quickly interrupted by pain from my second degree tear, getting stitched up, and then learning to nurse. It took me weeks to process the fact that I was in labor for 34 hours. It was not what I expected since my mom had such short labors. Our girl had her head tilted to the side and a little hand by her face which is probably why it took SO LONG. The day after I felt seriously traumatized by the experience. But once a week had passed and I had gotten some sleep and come down off the adrenaline high I was able to process my experience and realized that it really wasn’t that bad. The pain was real and intense but I managed and I did it. I SERIOUSLY DID THAT. Everyone there said that I was pretty calm and graceful about it. I certainly didn’t feel that way at any point during the experience, but I appreciate the kinds words and their encouraging viewpoint. Postpartum was an interesting experience to say the least…but almost six months in and I am fully recovered and we are thriving with so much enjoyment of this perfect person!
Oh, and it took us about a full day to christen our little lovely with her name, Winsla Faith.
Winsla because we couldn’t decide between Winslet and Isla, and Faith after myself and my mom (my middle name and her first name). Winslet means “Wynn’s channel or stream” and Isla is a scottish river…So to us, Winsla Faith means a streaming channel of faith.
In the end there were eight people in attendance at our girl’s entrance to the world. Our midwife, Elizabeth and her assistant, Samara, Hayley our chiropractor, Regan our videographer, my mom Faith, Bonnie our Doula, my love Andrew, and obviously myself. These people hold such a special place in heart!
Already looking forward to hopefully having another baby at some point in the NOT near future. Everyone says you never have your first baby experience twice, and by God they had better be right! 😉