In January and February of 1996, I took a ‘Labor Support Course’ offered through the Seattle Midwifery School. One of my goals is to become a midwife one day, but, being a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother of 5 small children, I knew it wouldn’t be feasible for a long time. Working as a doula (a woman who gives emotional support to a woman in labor) would give me some extra experience in the childbirth field. At the training course, we viewed several different videos of women laboring and giving birth. One such video was of a water birth. The woman giving birth in the birthing tub looked so relaxed and in control that I was awestruck. I had given birth to 5 babies myself (the last three had been unassisted home births), and was anticipating a 6th pregnancy at any time. The video so impressed me that I decided I wanted to birth my next baby into water. Wouldn’t you know it but the very next week I found out I was indeed pregnant already. I am always excited to discover that we are to be blessed with a new baby in our home, but this time I think I was even more excited. The first time I mentioned birthing into water to my husband, he did not react favorably to the idea. I didn’t pursue it much at first, but would just mention from time to time that I really wanted to try a water birth. He would give me a look as if to say, “You’re crazy.” At our public library, I checked out a few books dealing with waterbirth and, after reading them myself, left them lying about for dh to pick up and read. He wouldn’t do it. I didn’t want to waste my time trying to locate a birthing tub if he wasn’t game to give it a try. One day I read to him a small portion of one of the books and he asked a couple of questions that were of concern to him, like: what if the baby inhales water as it is being born?; and, how do you know how much blood the mother loses?, …etc. After answering all his questions through the borrowed books, he was more open to the idea. In fact, he even began to defend it when my mother and others expressed the same concerns that he had had. After dh was more agreeable to having a water birth, I began to seek a way to have one. I didn’t know of anywhere that I could rent a birth tub, and I had to keep in mind that we had very limited funds available. With the baby due in late October, by August I still had no definite plans. I was starting to despair of being able to do it this time around. Then one day in August I was talking to an acquaintance about how I couldn’t locate anywhere to rent a birth tub. She mentioned that a local friend of hers had rented a birth tub from somewhere in Seattle, then gave me the woman’s phone number. That woman gave me the number of a book shop in Seattle, about 60 miles away. This shop also sells baby-related items and rents birth pools! I was so excited! But after talking with the proprietor about rental fees, $150, I knew we couldn’t afford it. While it is definitely worth every penny, we just didn’t have that kind of money for a luxury item. I went looking for end-of-summer clearances on children’s pools, but everyone was out-of-stock. Finally in September, with the birth looming ever nearer, I called back to the owner of the store in Seattle. I explained how I wanted to have a water birth so bad but just could not afford the rental fee. When I asked if there was any way that we could work out some kind of arrangement, she offered to rent me a tub that she had in storage and did not use anymore. It was a different kind than the ones she normally rents out, and I could rent this one for $50. Wow! Talk about excited, I really was then! She even agreed to sell it to me if I liked it, as she would probably never use it again. Well, I figured my due date to be October 15 (40 weeks after LMP), but since I am always late, I knew it would be a least late October. I kept telling everyone that if I hadn’t had it by the 30th, I wanted it to wait until November 1st, because I didn’t want a Halloween baby. Well, as it turned out, even November 1st came and went. For days I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions, starting about mid-afternoon and continuing until after I went to bed that night, only to be gone upon awakening in the morning. I was getting a little frustrated with it as I remembered it had happened the last two pregnancies, also. As before, the baby’s head was not engaged in the cervix. The last time, I tried to encourage contractions using nipple stimulation, and it had worked. (At that time I didn’t realize that if I had kept up the stimulation, I probably would have had the baby a lot sooner than I did.) Dh had been checking my cervix for any changes every couple of days, and found it to be getting softer. We believe the main reason that the contractions were not more effective was because the baby’s head was not engaged. It was not putting any direct pressure on the cervix. There was no mucus plug that he could dislodge to try to encourage labor. On Saturday night, November 2, I tried to stimulate some contractions by twisting my nipples. After only about 5 minutes, they began coming, and kept coming on a consistent basis about every 7-8 minutes. This was after not having any contractions the whole day long. After about an hour, we quit and went to bed. I was hoping that the contractions would continue and awaken me later, but I awoke in the morning with no more contractions. Now I was really frustrated. At church that morning, I asked a friend of ours, a labor and delivery nurse at a local hospital and also a childbirth educator, for some advice. I told her that it was nearly 43 weeks since my LMP, and that I was 2-3 cm. with no engagement of the head. I also told her I could start contractions using nipple stimulation, but they would peter-out after I quit doing it. She said that I needed to keep up the stimulation for much longer, until the contractions were well established and I was at least 5 centimeters dilated. We decided that we would attempt to induce the labor that very afternoon. Since dh is our church’s choir director, we would have to leave our house by 4:15 p.m. to have choir practice at 4:45. At 2 p.m., I began the stimulation by twisting and pulling on the nipples. The contractions started within 10 minutes, and were consistent as long as I kept up the stimulation. I noticed if I quit for a while, they slowed down, and when I began again, the contractions would pick up again. By 3:30, my contractions were consistent at 8-10 minutes apart and I had shown some definite effacement and dilation to 4 centimeters. I also began to have some pink mucus, so we decided to cancel choir practice and stay home from church. I wanted to work on having this baby already. We told my sister, A., and our friend, L., that we would call them when we thought they would be out of church, to let them know of our progress. They would be coming to video and photograph, and just be here if we needed to transport to the hospital or anything. Around 4:30, dh began to set up the birth tub in the kitchen. It was a large inflatable-type. It took over 5 hours to completely set up, what with pumping it up, disinfecting it, and then filling it with hot tap water. I had been a little worried that dh would change his mind at the last minute about me birthing into the water. But now that he was spending all this time to prepare it for me, I knew he loved me and was going to let me do it. All this time, I kept doing the nipple twisting and pulling, with an occasional 5 minute break now and then. By 9 p.m. I was 5 cm. dilated with contractions about 6-8 minutes apart, but the head was still not engaged in the cervix. We asked A. and L. to come over, and my mom and our friend M. came to get the kids. As my mom was leaving, I asked her if she wanted me to call her in the middle of the night to tell her when I had the baby. She said, “How about calling me at noon when you have it.” I was a little shocked and hurt by her comment, then she added, “Hey, this is Charity’s labor were talking about.” (She was remembering that my last 2 labors had been over 24 hours long.) I was hoping to have this baby by 6 a.m. at the latest. Around 10:30 p.m, dh checked my cervix again and found it to be the same as it had been the last time, so we decided to try some fundal pressure. We had done this during the labor of our 4th baby and it had resulted in getting the baby’s head to engage. He was born about 3 hours later. During a contraction, dh would put pressure on the top of the fundus (the top part of the uterus) and hold for the duration of the contraction. We would do this for about 30 minutes, checking the baby’s heart rate every 4-5 minutes or so. Afterward, dh checked for progress, but there wasn’t any, so we decided we would try again later. I was still doing nipple stimulation periodically to keep things going. I felt if I stopped, the contractions might slow way down. Around 11:30, dh laid down to take a short nap, so I got into the tub. Oh! It felt so wonderful to have my entire body immersed in the warm water. (Remembering it just now makes me long for a nice hot bath.) I felt totally weightless, and it was so easy to move about to different positions. After only 20 minutes of this bliss, dh wanted me to get out so he could check my progress again, and try more fundal pressure if needed. He found me to still be the same as before. We again attempted to get the baby’s head to engage, but it would not. I was beginning to despair of having the baby before 6 a.m. This was at midnight and I was so tired that I just wanted labor to stop for the night so I could get some rest. I laid down on my bed and tried to snooze between contractions, but rest was impossible now. The contractions suddenly began to come more frequently, about 4-5 minutes apart now, and I needed to really concentrate in order to handle them. I got up and walked around for a little while, but was not comfortable at all. I did not need to do anymore stimulation. At 1:30 a.m., I decided I needed to get into the water. It looked so inviting. L. had been timing my contractions for about ½ an hour, and they were consistent at 3 minutes apart now. After getting into the tub, I didn’t have another contraction for 8 minutes. L. and A. were telling me I should get out, as it had slowed my labor down. I didn’t want to get out, though. The water was so warm and relaxing, and I was finally able to rest. Not for long, though, for the contractions soon returned. After sitting with me for awhile, dh went to rest in the living room. L., A., and I talked about babies, and what we were going to name this one, and just visiting. We were interrupted by contractions, though, as they were now coming faster. I was amazed at how much easier these contractions were to handle. Being in the relaxing water made all the difference. I get real vocal when I go through transition; and when dh heard the loud moans coming from the kitchen, he knew that it was time to check on my progress. It was now about 2:20 a.m., and I was sure I would have this baby within 2 hours. When dh checked my cervix, he took a while feeling it. There was a weird expression on his face, and he shook his head, indicating that there was no change. I about lost it! All that work and pain, with nothing to show for it! This baby would never come! But he still was in there feeling around when he said, “Wait a minute, I think your complete.” After confirming that I was, I was in disbelief. “Are you sure?” “Yes,” he said. (Afterward, when I asked him why he thought at first there had been no change, he said that the cervix felt different when I was in the water.) After the announcement that I was ready, things started happening real fast. I asked dh to add more cold water, as I thought it was too warm for the baby to be born into. A. was videotaping; and L. was just gawking, having forgotten all about taking photos. We didn’t realize that we had not even set out the supplies we usually have on hand, they were still in the box in my bedroom. Within minutes, the urge to push came, but dh wanted me to breathe instead of pushing. That is very hard to do, when every urge in your body says, “PUSH!” He was afraid that I would tear as the head was born, so he wanted me to push slowly. With the first push, I felt a gush come out, and dh and I announced at the same time, “The water just broke.” I noticed that it was much harder to push under water than it had been for my 5 dry births. (The books on water birth had mentioned this, but now I was experiencing it.) After 2 pushes, the baby’s head was out, and I decided it might be easier to push if I was on my hands and knees. Because we didn’t have the tub full, the baby’s face was above the surface of the water. We had planned to birth the baby completely under the water, but the books advised against allowing the baby’s face to go under water after it had been exposed to the air. The cold air might trigger the breathing reflex. After one more push, the baby slid into daddy’s hands, at 2:34 a.m. on November 4. The first thing dh said was, “Its a girl!” I was so excited! L. and A. were screaming and cheering, as they knew I had wanted to have another girl so bad. We named her Abigail, and she weighed 8 lb. 13 oz. We did not take her to the ‘Well-Child Clinic’ as we had the other children. We did register her birth and get her S.S #, though. I am definitely a water birth proponent now. That labor was by far the easiest one I’ve had. We decided to purchase the tub so it will be available to me if I should ever need it again. She is working out a special payment plan for us. Also, I will rent it out to others in my community who want to experience the joy of water birthing. I recommend a water birth to anyone.
In September of 1994, we discovered that God was blessing us with baby #5. After having our last two at home, unassisted, we never even gave it a thought as to where this baby would be born. During our monthly checks to make sure everything was progressing normally, we found that my fundal height was larger than my weeks gestation. We wondered if perhaps I was farther along than we suspected. We checked for a second heartbeat a couple of times, but were pretty sure that there was only one baby. It was just on the large side. I had already had a 9 lb. 12 oz. boy in the hospital, and a 9 lb. 2 oz. boy at home, so I wasn’t very concerned about it being too large. Using my LMP as a guide, I figured the due date to be around June 8. But since all of my babies have been late, I didn’t expect it before the 15th. During the last few weeks, I was getting Braxton-Hicks contractions increasingly stronger and closer together, so that I was never sure when I would go into real labor. My cervix wasn’t changing all that much, as my husband would check almost every day, for his own peace of mind. He could feel that this baby’s head was not engaged, and we wondered if this was the reason why the contractions were ineffective. I was getting tired of calling my friend, L., to tell her, “Maybe tonight,” only to wake up in the morning with no contractions at all. My sister, R., was going to videotape the birth, so I was calling her, too, to make sure she would be prepared for whenever it happened. I tried using castor oil to make myself go into labor, but all it did was make me sick. I was so huge with this baby that I just wanted it to be over. My belly went straight out above my pubic bone, and you could feel some part of the baby’s body hung up on it. On June 15, I was so tired of being pregnant that I decided to try to start some contractions with nipple stimulation. I had read in several different midwifery textbooks about using nipple stimulation to get a sluggish labor going, so I thought I would give it a try. Around 11 a.m, I twisted and pulled on my nipples for about 10 minutes, while I was soaking in the bathtub. I noticed a few contractions, but they weren’t very hard, so I didn’t really give them much thought. They did continue to come while I was soaking in the tub, so I tried the stimulation a little more after I got out. The contractions were definitely getting stronger, and then they started coming closer together. It was now around noon and dh was at work, a 45 minute drive, with several errands to run on the way home. I wanted him to come home to be with me, as it seemed like things were starting to happen. I called him and told him,”No hurry, just do the errands, then come home.” Not long after that, contractions started coming faster, 4-5 minutes apart. I was starting to get a little concerned, as I thought I might have to deliver the baby by myself if things kept up like this. I knew dh had left work already and probably wouldn’t be home for at least an hour and a half. My 4 children were all gathered around me asking what was the matter. I asked them to go play quietly as Mommy wasn’t feeling very well. I called my mom and asked her to come get the kids, and also called L. and R. to come, as it looked like the baby would be here very soon. I told them that I was worried that dh wouldn’t make it and I didn’t want to be alone. L. arrived first and asked if there was anything she could do to help me. The contractions were 2 minutes apart and very strong. I asked her to entertain the kids in the other room, because it was getting hard to concentrate. I told her that if dh didn’t get home soon she might be delivering a baby. My mom and R. got there shortly after. This whole time, I had been sitting in my recliner chair, breathing through each contraction. My mom commented that by the looks of me, I would deliver within the hour. Not long after, dh arrived and was surprised by all the commotion. We explained the situation, and then I got up to go to the bedroom for him to check me. I was sure that I would be completely dilated, by the feel of the contractions. After getting up and moving around, I felt the contractions lighten-up. He checked and informed me that while there was some change since the last time he checked me, I was only about 3 cm. dilated. That was a big disappointment. The contractions gradually slowed down to about 10 minutes apart. –[Too bad I didn’t know then what I figured out in a subsequent labor- if had I kept up the nipple stimulation, I probably would have had the baby much sooner.]– After my mom took the kids home, we began to try the fundal pressure that had caused my last baby to engage, but this one wouldn’t budge. We could feel that some part of the large baby was hung up on my pubic bone. We all tried to rest as my contractions continued throughout the night, but by morning I was only about 5 cm. It looked like it would be awhile still, so L. and R. decided to go home and shower, and said they would come back as soon as we needed them. I thought I might take a walk, as I knew that walking was good for stimulating contractions. They left around 8 a.m. and within minutes of them driving away, my water broke. I was real excited then, because I knew the baby would definitely come soon. Dh checked me with a sterile glove and found that the cord did not come down with the water. I was relieved. (That is the main concern with the water breaking early in labor or before the head is engaged. If the cord prolapses, the pressure of the baby’s head against it pinches off the oxygen, then the baby could die or be brain damaged. It is a definite obstetrical emergency.) One of my friends is a Labor and Delivery nurse at a local hospital, so dh called her to get some advice about how to handle this situation most effectively. She told us to check the heart rate more frequently than usual, and to drink lots of fluids. We called L. and R., and they came back immediately. My contractions gradually picked up their frequency, and by 2:30 p.m. I was almost completely dilated. I had planned to try to squat to deliver the baby, but I was so large that it was very uncomfortable, and we also attempted to try it too soon. So dh had me sit upright on some kitchen chairs that he had rigged up as a kind of birthing stool. We had delivered our last baby this same way and it worked really well. | R. began videotaping about 3:15. When I felt the urge to push, dh said to push slowly. He was remembering that our last baby had come so fast he almost dropped him and he didn’t want to have that happen again. When I began to push, I expected the baby to come right away, as my other babies had taken only 2 or 3 pushes. But I pushed very hard and this baby hardly moved at all. After several pushes, the head was out, and what a very large head it was. Dh helped ease it out to try to keep me from tearing. After about a minute, I tried to push the rest of the baby out, but with all my strength, it wouldn’t move. [I remembered with dread that my first baby had been very large and gotten stuck. The doctor had a nurse push on my belly just above the pubic bone (called “supra-pubic pressure”) to help get him out.] Dh had L. push very hard right above my pubic bone area as I pushed, but the baby still wouldn’t come. This was all happening in a matter of about 2-3 minutes. I thought that it might be easier for me to push if I laid down on the floor. So, with the baby’s head hanging out of me, I started to stand up to get down on the floor. As I stood up, I felt something shift inside and decided to try to push again. I said, “Wait a minute,” then pushed. The baby slid out at 3:31 p.m, right into daddy’s hands. All 10 lb. 8 oz. of him! I was so glad that was over! And not a single tear to show for it. We named him Nathan, and he let the world know that he arrived with a loud, lusty cry. (He is still a very loud crier today.) L. cut the cord this time, and the placenta arrived with no complications. Before he was 2 weeks old, we took him to the ‘Well-Child Clinic’, where he was pronounced ‘healthy’. They didn’t like it that I refused a PKU test and immunizations, but we feel they are unnecessary. We applied for his birth certificate and S.S.# shortly after. We felt euphoric, and thankful that God had given us another blessing. We had intended to have photos taken, but in the hurry and excitement of the moments, they were forgotten. I am very thankful for the video, though. It came out nice, and I will show Nathan his birth when he is older.
In July of 1992, we discovered that we were expecting another baby. After two easy hospital births, we had had our third baby at home, unassisted. At that time, our main reason for having an unassisted birth was the lack of medical insurance, which caused us to seek out God’s will for us concerning the place of birth. We felt God leading us to just stay home and birth the baby into his daddy’s hands. Now, we still didn’t have any medical insurance, but even if we did, I knew that home was where I wanted to birth my baby. We prayed and asked God to lead us differently if we were not to do the same again, but He never led different, so we prepared as we did before. My pregnancy progressed normally, with us doing our own prenatal care. We would keep a record of my B/P, my pulse, the fetal heart tones, my fundal height, my weight…, everything that an OB. checks, except for blood and urine tests. Toward the end of my pregnancy my husband would periodically check for any changes in my cervix. Using my LMP date, I estimated the due date to be around March 8. Two of my previous babies had been a week late, one was two weeks late, so I was not surprised when March 8 came and went. When I got to be 2 weeks “late”, I was starting to imagine all kinds of possible reasons (there are a few deformities that have post-dates as one of the complications). While the baby’s head was not engaged in the cervix, my Braxton-Hicks contractions were increasing every day and my husband was noting slight changes in the cervix. We continued to ask God to bless with a healthy baby, and so I tried to be patient and not fret about being so “late.” On the evening of March 26, I noticed some pinkish mucus and had dh check. I was slightly more effaced than I had been the night before, and a lot more ‘mucusy’. After a couple of hours, I realized that my contractions were getting closer together, so we called for my mom to come get the kids. Also, my friend, M., came to stay the night, in case things picked up. My sister opted to stay home, with the promise to come first thing in the morning if she hadn’t heard anything from us. As it was still very early labor, dh went to bed, after telling me to wake him if anything changed. M. went to sleep in our recliner rocker, but I was too excited to rest for long. While the contractions were coming at regular intervals, they were still 10 minutes apart with no engagement of the head. I knew that I should have been resting, but I wanted to see if I could get my labor going by walking around. By morning, there was some dilation to about 3 cm. with contractions averaging about 8 min. apart. Now I was very tired with a lot of labor left to go. After my sister arrived, our mother called, expecting to hear news of a baby. At 4 p.m. I was only at 5 cm. and had been there for a couple of hours. I was very tired after not sleeping all night, but was not able to rest now. The baby’s heart rate was still good, so we weren’t worried about the length of time. Dh could feel that the baby’s head was still not engaged in the cervix, and we figured that that was why it was taking so long for my cervix to dilate. There was no direct pressure on the cervix to push it open. (We could feel that this baby was smaller than my previous babies. Both of my boys had been over 9 lb., so I was hoping this baby was a girl.) We decided to try to get the head to engage by pressing down on the top of the fundus during a contraction and holding it there. After doing ithat for a few contractions, we found that we did push the head lower. Scott checked the heart-rate, and it was still good. After a second attempt, we succeeded in getting the head to engage. We held it in place for about 4 contractions to make sure it wouldn’t go back up. The baby’s heart-rate remained good. After this, the contractions really started to pick up. They were soon coming one on top of the other. Around 6:30 p.m, Scott checked and found me to be completely dilated. (I probably had been for some time, but he had been giving computer technical help to someone over the phone, and only came to check after being informed he was desperately needed to help deliver a baby.) After setting out our supplies, he rigged up a sort of “birthing stool” in the kitchen, and had me sit so I could deliver upright, with the help of gravity. All this time I had felt no urge to push, so he told me to go ahead and give a little push to see what would happen. I gave a little push, and the head moved down some. Then he said to push a little more, so I did. I’m glad M. was ready with the camera, because this time the urge to push came, and the baby started to come real fast. Dh was shouting “Stop pushing! Stop pushing! Breathe! Breathe!,” but I couldn’t stop. My body just took over. Suddenly, the baby shot out, along with the amniotic fluid from the sac breaking. Dh almost dropped the baby, because he came shooting out so fast. He was unprepared for such a quick delivery. At 7:11 p.m. on March 27, 1993, we welcomed our fourth baby, and third son, Jonathan, into the world. He weighed 7 lb. 8 oz., my smallest baby. He was very vocal about his long hard day. We have a wonderful series of photos taken of the whole thing, showing the gush of fluid over the baby’s face, and of daddy’s quick catch. After examining me for tears, and finding none, Scott scolded me for pushing when he said to stop. I explained that it wasn’t me, but my body was just doing what it was supposed to do. We clamped the cord, and this time I got to cut it. The placenta came soon with no problems. After a visit with the Well-Child Clinic, it was discovered that he had a club foot. We were referred to Children’s Hospital, in Seattle, and his foot was corrected using casting and a brace. At first we were told that he had a 50% chance of needing surgery to fully correct it, but Praise God, he didn’t need surgery after all. We filed for his birth certificate and S.S #, and thanked God for another blessing born into his own father’s hands.