The birth of Maxx: 07/22/2006


Maxx’s birth story really begins at conception, which was on or around October 17th, 2005. Todd, my husband, and I had decided in August that we were ready to add a child to our little family. When it came to finding the appropriate care once I became pregnant, there really was no question in our minds that we would choose a midwife, rather than a physician. Todd’s mom, Jan, is a midwife, thus our decision to choose midwifery care was made before we even thought of having children.

We looked for a midwife in Madison, WI where we live. Jan, due to her connections as a midwife, made the recommendation of Ingrid Andersson, a CNM in Madison. Her keen intuition and knowledge of what we wanted in pregnancy care guided us in the right direction, and ultimately we found our perfect match. When we interviewed Ingrid, I just knew that she was supposed to be at the birth of our baby. Jan, of course, would also be there. Having found Ingrid and arranging for Jan to be at the birth, made us feel like we were in the best of hands. And we were throughout the pregnancy, delivery and post partum.

We started seeing our midwife around the 4 month mark. Prior to that we saw our physician once, to make sure we got into “the system.” We saw someone that Ingrid had some experience with in the past. Prior to seeing Ingrid, Jan also kept good track of me and the progress of my pregnancy.

My pregnancy was wonderful…probably one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life…until Maxx was born. Now of course it is motherhood, with all its ups and downs. During my pregnancy I was able to do a lot of things (including a trip to Hawaii during my 8th month of pregnancy) and had practically no issues. We loved working with Ingrid, often going over the allotted time that we had with her during our appointments. We saw her monthly at her home, until the last couple of months, when we saw her more frequently.

Our baby’s due date was July 10th, 2006. Being a first time mom, I knew that the likelihood of that day being the actual birthday was rather slim, but nonetheless I believed that the baby would born on that day. Our baby was conceived during a full moon, and the 10th was a full moon, according to the calendar. It made perfect sense to me, but I was wrong. My birthday was on the 9th. We all went out to dinner to celebrate. During dinner I experienced one very strong practice (that’s what I called my Braxton Hicks contractions) contraction and I thought “Is this it?” Well, turns out that was just a little taste of what was to come. But it was not to come for quite some time.

The following Thursday (July 13th) at our next appointment with Ingrid, she did an internal exam to see if there was any progress. I had been experiencing an increased sense of awareness in the lower part of my body due to increased pressure, as well as frequent “practice contractions.” We were curious to see if I was just imagining these things or whether there was actually something happening. It turned that I was 80% effaced and 2-3 cm dilated. We thought that was awesome, and of course expected that I would go into labor pretty soon. Well, we were wrong again. On Monday July 17th the baby had still not arrived and Ingrid set up some testing for us to make sure that everything was okay. We set up for a non-stress test and amniotic fluid check for that Thursday.

At this point, I was getting worried (although I did not admit it to myself or anyone else). Everything had been fine during my entire pregnancy, and the plans for our home birth were on track, but I felt that those plans were being compromised. I have a genuine dislike and distrust for physicians and hospitals (I don’t really know where that comes from and it really surprised me how strong those feelings were). I wanted to avoid any interaction with doctors and the hospital, but was not willing to induce labor naturally either. Jan had offered to advise us on how to encourage labor if we wanted, but Todd and I decided that we were going to let the baby decide when it was going to be born. I knew it was not unusual for first time moms to go into labor two weeks (or even more) later than the EDD, so I was able to push off some of my worries. I also knew that Ingrid was going to be fine letting us go until 43 weeks if the testing came back fine. But still that week was very stressful and emotional for me.

So, on Thursday July 20th we went to the hospital and had the first part of the testing done. The non-stress test came back fine. The baby was very cooperative. I had helped it along a bit with a cold Coke about ½ hour before the appointment. Following that test, we needed to set up a full ultrasound, which we had avoided until then. We never felt the need for an ultrasound and we not very excited about having to do one, but we surrendered and set up the appointment. The following day we went for the ultrasound. The sonographer asked whether we had had an ultrasound during this pregnancy and whether we wanted to find out the baby’s sex. We of course declined because we wanted to wait until the baby was born to find out. Todd and I, as well as many of our family and friends, were sure we were having a girl. We, until about two weeks before the due date, had only picked a girl name and had foolishly begun to refer to the child as “she”. (I really hope Maxx does not have a gender crisis later in life because of that.) Anyways, we declined to find out what we were having. The sonographer had us turn our heads while she was scanning the baby’s pelvic and genital area…she had us turn our heads back relatively quickly, so later we laughed about it thinking that it was a girl for sure and the sonographer figured we would not know what we were looking at anyhow, since it would not be very obvious. I still laugh about that now.

The ultrasound came back fine. The baby was estimated to be 9.5 lbs, which the perinatologist said was big. We knew that late ultrasounds could be off by as much as 2 lbs, so we felt that the baby was not really that big. The doctor then said that she had some concerns about how the baby was positioned. She thought the baby was posterior and that the head was not flexed. Both of these things could potentially cause some difficulties during labor. We called both Jan and Ingrid and let them know about the ultrasound and what the doctor had said. Both gave me exercises to do, to bring the baby into the right position. We questioned the doctor’s remarks about the baby being posterior, because at our appointment with Ingrid the day before, she felt the baby’s position and had not seemed concerned about it. We attributed the posterior remark to the fact that I had lain on my back for 45 minutes for the ultrasound.

After we finished the appointments and I went home, my worries were becoming a reality for me. After that appointment, although I kept a brave face, my nerves were pretty raw. Negative thoughts began creeping into my head, such as me having caused the baby’s bad positioning and the positioning being cause for having to go to the hospital for the delivery and having a c-section, etc. The worst case scenario was flashing in my mind. As much as I possibly could, I pushed those thoughts aside. I knew that the exercise I was doing could be effective and I knew that the baby’s head could be positioned manually if need be during the beginning stages of labor. I faithfully did my exercises that day.

Todd and I went for a walk that evening, as we had done pretty much consistently during those last few days. That night I was emotionally and physically exhausted from the last week. The anxiety of having to go to the hospital for testing (which I had hoped to avoid), going through the tests, being told about the sub-optimal positioning and that the baby was potentially very big had worn me down. It had caused me to think that I had somehow harmed the baby during the pregnancy. All I could think about as I got ready for bed that Friday evening was that I had caused these things and that the baby was not going to be okay. I became so overwhelmed with it all that I began to cry. I showered that night not only in water but my tears as well. I was unable to stop crying for 45 minutes. Eventually Todd found me sobbing in our shower. He held me and told me everything was going to be okay and that I had not caused anything. He repeated everything that I had been trying to remind myself of…all the logical things that my mind had pushed aside. I settled down that evening in Todd’s arms, calmer but not 100% convinced that everything was going to be fine.

I awoke at 7:30am on Saturday July 22nd, 2006. Although I had had an emotional evening, I managed to get some decent sleep and felt okay in the morning. I struggled to get out of bed (which by that time had become quite the task) and headed for the bathroom. Going to the bathroom for the first time that morning, I felt some significant cramping in my lower abdomen. Todd was still sound asleep. I did not want to get too excited right away, so I went downstairs without waking Todd. If this was going to be the day, I wanted to savor this moment and let it sink in. Plus, I didn’t really know whether these were real contractions I was feeling since I had never been in labor before. At 8:30am I went to the bathroom again and observed some bloody show. Now I got excited. I went back upstairs to wake Todd and said “I think we’re going to have a baby sometime today.” That woke up him up alright.

The contractions at that point were still quite irregular, anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes apart and lasting more than a minute. We called Jan, Todd’s mom, and described what was happening. We wanted to give her a long enough heads-up since she lives 1.5 hours away. After describing what I was experiencing to Jan, we decided that I was still in the very early stages of labor. We agreed to touch base again around noon that day, to see how things were progressing. I also called Ingrid to advise her of what was happening. Ingrid agreed that I was in early labor, but that I should not be surprised if things slowed down again as they often do. Ingrid had an important event to attend that day, so she was relieved to know that Jan was already aware of everything and was ready to get in her car whenever needed. We agreed to check in again in the early afternoon.

After we made those phone calls, Todd and I decided to have a good breakfast and go to the Farmer’s Market. Throughout the morning I experienced some contractions which became more intense, but I was still able to walk and enjoy the morning. I bought some sunflowers which I wanted to have in the room while birthing. We touched base with Jan again around noon to let her know that contractions were continuing but still slowly and not too intensely. After we returned home, we made lunch around 1:30pm. Pasta with pesto…I thought carbohydrates for energy would be good. Throughout that time my contractions got closer and more intense, to the point where I had to lean over the kitchen counter or couch to breath through them. They were still around 8 minutes apart.

We called Jan again to make sure that she was going to be on her way soon, as things seemed to be progressing. She was and said she be there around 4pm. I continued to work through contractions after lunch, not too many. I also continued to do some of the exercises for the baby’s positioning. Around 3pm we decided to head upstairs for a nap. I figured if the baby was going to come that day or evening, we could both use some rest. But it was difficult to settle down as my contractions seemed more intense lying down. In a twenty minute period, I worked through three contractions. I had the urge to go to the bathroom during the first two of that set. Sitting on the toilet felt okay; better than lying down for sure. The third one came just as I had settled down to continue my nap. I had to jump of the bed and get down on my knees to make it through that one. Things were picking up and definitely getting more and more uncomfortable. Between contractions, I tried to lie back down on the bed.

Around 3:45pm we heard a car door slam. I turned to Todd and said “That better be your mom!” My contractions continued to get closer and more painful. I had a couple of contractions while Todd and Jan were downstairs getting her things out of the car and lost my concentration to the point where I wanted to cry with each contraction. I felt alone and hoped that one of them would come upstairs soon. Jan immediately came upstairs once they got her things down to the basement (where the birth tub was set up and I planned to give birth) and talked to me. Her presence calmed me down quickly. Her calm voice directed me to breath and move through the contractions.

She observed two contractions and decided to get her fetal monitor and gloves to do an internal check. Between contractions, Jan checked my cervix and progress. We probably would not have done that unless we knew that there could be some issues with the baby’s head positioning. We wanted to make sure to take the opportunity early on to manually adjust it if that became necessary. I was 3-4 cm dilated. Another contraction came and I had to jump on all fours to work through it. After this contraction Jan checked again to see where the head was. She surprisingly announced that I was a “loose 4” after that one contraction. Before Jan could do any maneuvering of the head, another contraction came. The contractions were coming closer and closer and by that time were definitely less than 5 minutes apart. They were much shorter as well. We decided that it was time to begin filling the birth tub since it was going to take some time to fill. Jan also called Ingrid to let her know things were moving along and that she should come after her event was over. Ingrid agreed to come ASAP.

Around 5pm, I moved down to the basement. There I used the birth ball, which was awesome. I literally got to “roll” through the contractions. I was moving a lot during contractions, because it felt like my body needed to do that. I had watched some birth videos with Jan in the previous weeks to prepare for the birth. One particularly stood out in my mind as I was laboring. It was about women in Russia giving birth in water. I remember that many of the women were moving a lot on “land” as well as in the water. I really tried to allow my body to do what it needed to do, which seemed to be moving my hips in circles. Between contractions, I tried to rest. I spoke calmly with Todd, closed my eyes and rested when possible. Todd would rub my back on command and hold my hand when needed. He was by my side almost the entire time, stepping away only between contractions to help Jan set things up.

I do not recall exactly when Ingrid arrived. I know that shortly thereafter I got into the tub. Just before I got into the tub, the contractions were so intense that I was thinking and verbalizing that I needed a break. In my head I remember having a flash thought of “I don’t think I can do this for much longer.” Then I got into the tub and it felt like heaven. My body relaxed almost immediately. I settled in and got into a good position. The warm water welcomed me and safely surrounded me. I knew things were going to be okay.

Whether the contractions slowed down or not, I do not remember, nor do I remember a lot about how painful they were. What I do remember is swirling my hips in the water and making low moaning sounds. Todd was settled on my right, Ingrid on my left side both holding my hands and Jan was in front. I believe Jan was actually moving about quite a lot getting things ready, checking and recording the fetal heart rates, etc. Somewhere in all of this, my sister, Chelsea, came and began taking pictures. I hardly noticed her, but boy did she take some fabulous pictures.

It did not seem like I was in the tub for very long before I felt the urge to push. I looked at Ingrid and asked if it was okay to push, it seemed to me that maybe it was too early to push. Ingrid said to do what my body told me. And so I did, I began to push. Initially I threw my head back and screamed, but with a gentle reminder from Jan, I adjusted and tucked my head and produced low grunting noises while I was pushing. I immediately remembered Ina May’s words in her book about pushing and was able to produce good and productive pushes. According to Jan and Ingrid, I pushed for a total of 50 minutes. My water broke sometime during that timeframe. I heard and/or felt a loud POP when my water broke and said “my water broke.” Later Jan actually told me that no one was able to hear the POP; it was only me who experienced it like that.

From the very first push, a mirror was placed under my bottom so that we could see the progress of pushing. It was very interesting to see the little head beginning to show more and more as I continued to push. There was hair and someone remarked about how much hair there was. It looked slightly green, which was an indication that the baby had passed meconium at some point. As the head emerged more and more, Jan asked if I wanted to touch it. I did not. I was so focused on my breathing and laboring that I felt at that time it would be a distraction. I knew by then that my baby would be with me soon. As the head crowned an awful burning pain shot through my body and I believe I let out a very primal scream. It was only a few minutes after that the baby’s head emerged. Until then, I had been more or less sitting in the tub pressing both of my legs into the walls, allowing my body to be suspended in the water. Once the head crowned, Ingrid and Jan asked me to get onto all fours. So, I leaned forward over the tub side and continued to push. I do not recall the moment the baby’s head came out, all I remember is Jan saying that I need to give one more good push to get it’s hips out. …

And then FINALLY at 7:35pm on July 22nd, 2006, after a long wait (an eternity it seemed), my baby appeared. Jan and Ingrid passed our baby through my legs under the water and I sat back and held on to my baby. Once I sat, I was able to look and see who had come to join us in this world. All I was able to say in that moment was “It’s Maxx.” No one heard me the first time because I was so stunned. As I mentioned before, we had fully expected to welcome a baby girl. But there he was, my precious, perfect little baby boy. He was quite purple I remember and a bit limp, but his eyes were wide open and he was checking me out. Jan had to take him briefly to rub his back and give him a couple of breaths. We all encouraged him to breathe and scream…and did he ever scream.

My work was not done yet. After everyone found out it was Maxx and not Emily, as we had expected, the APGAR was given, the vitals were taken,the placenta was born, and the cord was cut. I remained in the tub to birth the placenta. Looking back,it may have been a better idea to get out of the tub because I hemorrhaged, turning the tub a deep red. No one could pin point exactly at which point I lost the blood or how much because I was in the tub. We noticed that I had lost more blood than expected after I got out of the tub, because I got a bit dizzy and became ashen (according to everyone’s observation).

I laid down on the little nest that was created for us on the floor by the tub and Ingrid began massaging my abdomen (not the most pleasant experience). I attempted to sit up to nurse Maxx, but was unable to because I became extremely dizzy and felt very, very weak. The concern that I had hemorrhaged now grew. There was more massaging the abdomen, rubbing of the feet and a phone call to my homeopath to figure out which remedy to give to help stop the bleeding. I also tore some as Maxx emerged with his hand by his head. It needed about 3-4 stitches to take care of that. I ate some food and rested, while Maxx was getting his exam and I was getting the care needed to regain my strength.

I called my parents sometime around 8:15pm (I think, my sense of time after Maxx was born was basically non-existent). I had not called my parents in the afternoon because things had moved quickly, so it came as a total surprise to my dad when he answered the phone. He mentioned that my mom had some pretty terrible back pain all day (which later my mom and I talked about and attributed to our deep connection as mother and daughterJ). This conversation was brief, but I called back later in the evening to talk more with them.

It took longer than expected for me to regain my strength. I had to crawl to our futon bed because I was unable to get up. My pulse and temperature continued to be high. At some point Ingrid hooked up an IV of fluids to get my pulse back down. That seemed to work to get my pulse down to a more comfortable level. Maxx’s temperature and heart rate was also somewhat high during this time, causing some concern over his condition. However, things did calm down for him throughout the evening and night, and got much better the days following. The discussion of whether I or Maxx needed to go to the hospital never came up, but I trust that Ingrid and Jan would have made it very clear if it needed to happen.

I am so, so very glad that I got to stay snuggled up in my own bed with my family during this time. Maxx was dozing on and off that evening, he began nursing and just stayed snuggled to mine or Todd’s chest that entire evening and night. Ingrid left around 2am once she felt comfortable with how we were doing. Jan stayed for most of the night, however had to leave in the very early morning hours for another birth. Chelsea also stuck around that night and the following day and helped out with practically everything. Ingrid returned the following day to check on all of us. Jan, the saint that she is, came back after the other birth and stayed with us for 4 days and helped us transition into parenthood. It was great to have someone help for those immediate days after Maxx was born, as I was not quite myself until later the following week.

Looking back on this experience, which is one that I will NEVER forget and CHERISH forever, I am certain that I got the best birth experience I possibly could have imagined. I do not recall any fear or negative feelings throughout the labor and birth, and can confidently attribute that to people that surrounded me during the pregnancy and the birth. Having both Ingrid and Jan at the birth was absolutely perfect and I would not have wished it any other ways. Both worked together like they had done it for years and both really cared about us. Ingrid became part of our family and will remain a part of our family for a long time to come. I am so grateful for Ingrid’s and Jan’s wisdom, love and care. I could not have wished for more or less. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts to you both.


Jan’s Story

T&D weddingMy oldest son Todd met Dana in college and they married in May of 2004. I was glad that they decided to remain living in Madison, WI, so they wouldn’t be too far from us

In the fall of ’05, they became pregnant with a very planned pregnancy. Right away I began showering Dana with information and books to read. One of my favorite things about Dana is that, right from the beginning, she was always open to and interested in “natural living” – breastfeeding, natural birth, vegetarian eating, environmentally-conscious lifestyles. Although she was born in East Germany and immigrated to the US when she was 12, and had little exposure to these concepts, she readily embraced them from the time she first met Todd. So when she became pregnant, I found her very accepting of the ideas I shared with her.

Her pregnancy was uneventful. She and Todd made the decision in about her 4th month of pregnancy to have a homebirth and hired a wonderful nurse-midwife, Ingrid Andersson,from Madison, someone I admire a lot who does exclusively homebirth. And they asked me to be present at their birth as Ingrid’s assistant. Naturally, I was thrilled to agree to this.

When Dana was 2 days before her due date, and I had a break in my birth schedule, we decided I should go over to Madison and stay with them, pending her delivery. For a week, Dana and I had fun doing “girl” things, while we waited. We also watched a lot of birth videos that I brought with me. At the end of the week, with no labor imminent, I went back to Milwaukee for 2 days, to tend to my own practice. Then I returned to Madison, again planning to wait, but it was apparent to me within a day that my presence there, just “waiting”, wasn’t helpful. I went back home and promised them I would come back as soon as she needed me. This was the 17th, a Monday.

All week we waited, and on Thursday of that week, Ingrid decided that Dana should have a non-stress test, to ensure that the baby was still doing fine in there. The NST was fine, but they also wanted to do a measurement of her amniotic fluid and said they couldn’t do that right then because Dana had never had an ultrasound. So they scheduled their first and only ultrasound for the next day. That exam showed the baby to be just fine. When they came to the part of the scan where it would have been possible to see the baby’s gender, Todd and Dana looked away. They had waited this long. They could wait a few more days!

That nite, Dana started worrying about the “what ifs”. She had been so strong and confident during the whole pregnancy and “overdue” period, but this kind of thing eventually catches up with even the strongest of us. What if she would end up having to be at the hospital after all? What if the baby wasnt’ OK? What if……. What if………??? She had a good long cry in the shower and went to bed.

The next morning, Saturday the 22nd, 12 days after her due date, I got a call. She had awakened with contractions that were different than what she had been feeling before. They were sharper, more focused. Yes, she said, this is definitely the day. Should I come over right away, I asked? No, we’re going to go to the Farmer’s Market this morning, I think I’ll be fine, and I’ll call you when they get stronger and closer together.

So I took care of some errands I needed to run, and around noon, I called her back. “How are things going?” I asked. “Yes,” she said, “they are definitely stronger and closer together. I had to stop and lean on Todd a couple of times at the Farmer’s Market.” Should I come now, I wondered? “Well,” she said, “we’re going to have some lunch now and then I think we’ll lay down for a rest.” Hmmmm, I thought; if she can eat lunch, she’s still not in active labor. So I told her I would have lunch at home too, and then head out.

So after lunch, I packed up and drove the 90 minutes to their home. As I got out of my car in the driveway, Todd came out of their house to help me bring in my bags and told me that they had laid down to rest, only to discover that Dana didn’t like having contractions lying down. Every time she had one, she had to jump up and lean over the side of the bed. And when she heard my car door slam, she had said to Todd, in a less than patient voice, “That better be your mom”. It was 3:45pm

You see, that day, Ingrid had scheduled a huge homebirth picnic for all of her former clients. So when Dana had called and told her of her early labor symptoms, she had said that since she knew I was coming, Dana was in good hands and therefore she would still attend her picnic, but would leave anytime we needed her. And so, as I arrived, I was the first midwife on the scene and apparently, at just the right time!

I checked on Dana and her baby, observed some of her contractions (which were getting nice and strong now!) and did a vaginal exam. 4 cms! Time to fill the birth tub.

Todd and I left Dana to labor in her bedroom, while we went to their finished basement where the labor tub had been set up for about 3 weeks. We got the water going and I set up my equipment, just in case things would progress quickly. We lit the candles and closed the curtains, to create a safe, dark and private “birthing cave”.

Around 5 pm, the tub was nearly filled and Dana’s labor was progressing at a rapid pace. She was starting to ask about getting in the water. I called Ingrid and told her she should come now, and she said she was just finishing the picnic, and would go home to get her supplies and be over in about 45 minutes. She advised that we not have Dana enter the water yet, as she felt that women should wait until they REALLY needed to be in the water before getting in. So we helped Dana move from the 2nd floor to the basement, where she labored on the futon that was set up there.

Shortly before 6, Ingrid arrived. I told her that Dana, who was doing extremely well with her rapid and intense labor, had just said, “Oh,please, I just need a break…” , to which Ingrid responded, “Oh my – then she should definitely get into the water.” Once in the tub, she was able to relax even more, and at 6:30 her water broke in the tub. She stared sounding “pushy” within a few contractions, and second stage started at 6:45.

Todd was very attentive to Dana during her labor.

My daugher Chelsea also lives in Madison and is very close to her brother and his wife. It had been the plan that she would be there for the birth, but once in labor, Dana wasn’t sure if she wanted other people there. But at this point, we realized we wanted someone to bring over some video equipment that was at a friend’s house; we would also need a photographer. So Chelsea was called and she began showed up just before the water broke with cameras in hand. Still, she didn’t understand that her services were actually needed in the birth room, and was waiting upstairs in the living room. Finally, I said, “Where’s Chelse?” and I went to get her. “Get down here!” I told her, and she said, “ME?!?!” “Yes!”, I said, ” We need a photographer!” So Chelsea joined us for her first birth, and took amazing photos, which you are looking at here. She isn’t shown in any, since she was behind the camera.

Jan and Todd helping Dana as she labors.

Jan and Todd helping Dana as she labors.

Dana was a great pusher. She really listened to her body. And sometimes she would swirl her hips in spirals in the water, as we had seen done in one of the videos we had watched together. She sweated and moaned and grunted and very gently pushed her baby to the pelvic floor.

Ingrid hadn’t changed from her picnic and was still in a summery dress. So she sat next to Dana and held her hand and spoke comforting words to her, while I held the flashlight and the mirror in the water. Todd watched as Dana beautifully brought her baby down.

Looking through the water at the mirror - and seeing the baby coming closer!

Looking through the water at the mirror – and seeing the baby coming closer!

When the baby was close to crowning, I noticed that Ingrid had not put on any gloves and wasn’t making any moves to do so. Since I was the one with my hands in the water, I decided I should put on some gloves and be prepared. I offered the box of gloves to Ingrid, but she declined – her way of indicating that she was going to let me catch the baby. I gratefully accepted her offer. I continued to hold the mirror through every contraction until it was clear that the baby was about to come, then dropped it and moved my hands to support Dana’s perineum. Dana had moved into a full squat at this point.

The ring of fire!

The ring of fire!

The head emerged and we asked Dana to move forward into a hands-and-knees position, so we could see better what was happening with the color of the baby’s head and to be able to have better leverage if it was needed. She obliged, and within a few seconds (30?), the body came out.

The head is nearly out...... a crazy feeling!

The head is nearly out…… a crazy feeling!

Moving to hands-and-knees for the birth of the shoulders. Almost there!

Moving to hands-and-knees for the birth of the shoulders. Almost there!

The baby had a bit of cord wrapped around his neck/body, which I unwrapped, then “swam” him through Dana’s legs and told her to reach down and take him out of the water. Ingrid was on the other side by then and was helping him get up and out. It was 7:35 pm.

A little tricky to see: Dana's bum is toward us (blocked by my hair), Ingrid's arm is on the left, mine (with green glove) is on the right. Maxx's head is visible, pointing downward toward Dana's right foot (if you can imagine where that is) and facing Ingrid, and his right arm and hand are near the water surface.  Get it?

A little tricky to see: Dana’s bum is toward us (blocked by my hair), Ingrid’s arm is on the left, mine (with green glove) is on the right. Maxx’s head is visible, pointing downward toward Dana’s right foot (if you can imagine where that is) and facing Ingrid, and his right arm and hand are near the water surface. Get it?


Here, closer up: my hands, in green gloves, support Maxx and untangle his cord. He is completely out now, at an angle downwards to the left. You can't see much of his head, as it is obscured by the tub edge, but his arms and hands are clear. You can see the cord, a grey line around his belly.

Here, closer up: my hands, in green gloves, support Maxx and untangle his cord. He is completely out now, at an angle downwards to the left. You can’t see much of his head, as it is obscured by the tub edge, but his arms and hands are clear. You can see the cord, a grey line around his belly.

Dana and Todd greeted their baby and discovered that he was a boy. All through the pregnancy, virtually everyone (with a few exceptions) had thought he was a girl, so we were really surprised!

Dana and Todd greeted their baby and discovered that he was a boy. All through the pregnancy, virtually everyone (with a few exceptions) had thought he was a girl, so we were really surprised!



Dana cradled him in her arms in the water, while Todd circled around behind, just outside the tub wall, and placed his arms in a posture of protection around his wife and new son. It was so sweet....  he made his mother proud!

Dana cradled him in her arms in the water, while Todd circled around behind, just outside the tub wall, and placed his arms in a posture of protection around his wife and new son. It was so sweet…. he made his mother proud!

Within about 10 minutes, with the tub water getting pretty red, we were about to get Dana out when she felt her placenta coming. She pushed it out in the water,I scooped it up, and Todd cut the cord. Then we got her out, with baby Maxx in her arms, and had the family lay down on the floor next to the tub (with blankets and pillows for comfort).

Getting out of the tub, with lots of help.

Getting out of the tub, with lots of help.

Dana sat up to nurse Maxx for the first time about 10 minutes later and became VERY pale and dizzy. Oh my – looks like we lost more blood in the tub than we thought, I thought to myself. We spent the next 2 hours getting her stabilized. Ingrid was able to run some IV fluids into Dana to help rehydrate and replenish her blood volume, which was really useful.

Getting to know Maxx

Getting to know Maxx

By noon the next day, with gentle loving care, Dana was doing fine. Maxx experienced a few days of oral confusion, because we had been using our fingers as a pacifier for him when Dana couldn’t nurse him. But by the end of the first week, he was nursing like a pro. And my son Todd has turned out to be the most loving, devoted father – I am continually amazed at his patience with Maxx. He will sit with him for hours, and when Maxx is having a meltdown, it is Todd who can put him in the front carrier and walk him until he falls asleep.

I stayed for 4 days postpartum with Dana and then returned home to my own life and practice. When I returned, I wrote a note of thanks to Ingrid for her loving care of my “kids” and for allowing me to be so involved with the birth. Her response to me brought tears to my eyes: “This work continually amazes me in its seemingly endless capacity for unfolding meaning and grace. Forces greater than we, it seems, conspired, to place your tools, your watchfulness, and your hands in a primary place around Dana, her baby, and Todd. At the same time, I was filled with gratitude to you for allowing me to partake in the picnic. I received many signs that Dana was completely comfortable in your presence, and the fact that her labor kicked in when you arrived was very telling of her fundamental trust in you as a midwife. I believe the videos you watched together, the crying, the extra time to remove some walls, all gifted her with that impressively smooth and rapid labor.”

I love you Maxx . . . . . . Nana