The birth of Madeline: 04/22/2004


I was expecting my second baby and hoping to deliver several days past my due date. My son was 19 months old, and we were busy savoring the last few weeks of his time as an only child. Jan and Lucky were set to attend a 3 day conference beginning 2 days after my due date. They were really hoping that I wouldn’t go into labor while they were out of town.

The evening of my due date, my husband took a side profile picture of me as we had done every month starting at 5 months. We emailed this one to my sister and close friends, so they could see me at 40 weeks. That night, I awoke around 1 AM feeling uncomfortable as I had the previous morning when I’d experienced some false labor. I got up, went to the bathroom and fell back asleep. I woke up again at 3:30 AM having fairly strong contractions anywhere from 2-12 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds. I walked around for a while thinking (and hoping) that they’d stop. 30 minutes later, the contractions were stronger and regular at every 7 minutes. Since I still had no bloody show, I stayed in denial for another hour and then called Jan around 5 AM.

Since I could still walk and talk through my contractions, Jan thought we still had several hours and told me to wait about a half hour and then wake up my husband to start setting up the birthing tub. I felt like my labor was really accelerating quickly and didn’t think we had that much time. For some reason I can’t explain, I didn’t bother expressing that feeling to Jan. I woke my husband up right away, and he began setting up the tub.

I walked in circles around our house for the next hour or so. I climbed onto our bed around 6:30 AM. Whenever a contraction began, I crawled around the bed on my hands and knees humming a low sound sometimes stopping to squeeze the blanket between my hands. By 7 AM I knew that my cervix was finished dilating. I felt a definite change inside my pelvis and started to get a gentle urge to push. Jan had not yet arrived and my husband was still filling the tub, so I pushed extremely lightly, just enough to satisfy my urge but not actually move the baby. My lower back really started to hurt during contractions at this time.

Jan arrived a little after 7:15, and I asked her to do the intradermal sterile water injections in my lower back right away. This was a technique I had come across in my reading about back labor and back pain during labor. I really wanted to deliver with someone who would do this technique for me if I needed it. I had a traumatically painful experience with severe back labor with my first delivery, and was really hoping for a better experience this time.

Jan first checked the baby’s heart rate and then did the injections. They worked perfectly. They stung severely, but as soon as the sting wore off, the back pain during my contractions was gone. I was then able to really concentrate on pushing the baby along.

Jan was surprised to find that I was already pushing. She hadn’t expected my labor to progress so quickly. My water broke during a push, and I started pushing harder. There was meconium in my amniotic fluid, so once my daughter’s head emerged, I had to stop pushing for ~1 minute while Lucky and Jan suctioned her airway. Then the rest of her was born, and I completely relaxed. My labor was only 5 hours, so it went too fast to get to use the tub. (We hadn’t set it up ahead of time since our toddler would have been constantly trying to play in it.)

I am so happy to have had this homebirth experience. And I’m so happy it went so well. Pushing with real effort only lasted 30 minutes this time compared with 3 hours with my first birth experience. And most importantly to me, I did not have back labor this time. I had back pain during contractions which Jan was able to eliminate for me. The back labor I had the first time involved constant severe back pain that escalated to excruciating during contractions and went back down to severe in between contractions. The pain was constant with my first birth. This time, I was actually pain free between contractions and was able to regroup physically and mentally before the next contraction started. What a different experience!

All through my prenatal care, Jan was very sensitive to my previous back labor experience. She really helped me to do everything I could to ensure that this time the baby would be in an ideal position for labor in the hopes of avoiding back labor. She also made sure that she would be prepared to do the intradermal sterile water injections to treat back pain if I did have it. She had never performed the technique before, and I will always be grateful to her for learning it and being willing to try it for me.

This positive birth experience really made a difference in how soon I bonded with my daughter compared to my son, my first baby. I have several friends who also had strong negative memories from their first birth experiences who also didn’t really feel bonded to their babies for several weeks. I really wish that I could go back in time and redo the last month of my first pregnancy and the birth as well. I believe that if my OB had informed me about proper posture and good exercises to do, I could have avoided the back labor and had a very different experience. But thankfully, this good birth experience is also helping me to finally finish healing from the trauma and residual anger I had been holding onto since my first birth. Instead of feeling disappointed and even traumatized, this time I feel proud and even powerful. I am so grateful that I found Jan and Lucky.