This birth took place on July 21, 2008 and I have been given permission to share the story and pictures. It was the 2nd breech birth I photographed, 1st in the frank breech position.
The Birth of Avery Naoma
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
1 Samuel 1:27
Saturday & Sunday, July 19-20:
Barry and I had the most fun the weekend before Avery’s birth. We spent all Saturday at the mall shopping, we saw a movie and ate out for dinner. Sunday was full of relaxing and pool time. I think I knew it would be our last weekend together before Avery’s birth…so I wanted us to do all the things we loved doing together. I remember specifically walking into JCPenney to start our weekend fun and talking to my doula and friend, Lesley. I told her about some of the little changes I had noticed in the last day and told her I thought we were moving in the right direction. We were.
Monday, July 21:
4:30AM: I wake up having contractions. I try to ignore them and go back to sleep but I can’t. I hang out in bed waiting for Barry’s alarm to sound about 5:00AM. He gets up and showers for work while I move to the couch and watch the news. I tell him that I’m having regular contractions but they aren’t lasting very long so he left for work as usual. I try to go back to bed and fail. I shower instead and hang out.
8:00AM: I call my doula Lesley and we chat. We decide it is early labor. She tells me to rest, eat, bathe and just store up some energy. I prepare mentally for a very long labor. It is my first baby so honestly, I expect to be miserable. I call “my peeps” and put them on alert. I say “Something is happening but it could be a couple of days before we have a baby.” (My mom would later tell me that she had a feeling I was progressing faster than I thought.)
10:00AM: I watch “The View” and bounce around on my birth ball. I don’t like it so I get off. My contractions are rather uncomfortable and coming every 3-5 minutes, but they still aren’t lasting more than 40 seconds. I call my midwife Ann and give her the scoop. She tells me to rest, eat, bathe and just store up energy.
10:30AM: I make an breakfast burrito and drink a Coke. I have to bury my face in the towel on the kitchen counter during contractions. When it passes, I resume cooking my eggs. I’m having a harder time concentrating.
Noon: I call my midwife again. We chat for a minute and she asks “Have you had a contraction while we’ve been on the phone?” and I answer “Yeah, like 3. Why?” She tells me to keep trying to get some rest. I call Barry and tell him to come home around 1PM. I need a little company or help or something because my “early labor” is kinda hurting. I get in the bath after I hang up with Barry. What a mess! I am 10 times bigger than my shallow apartment tub. My contractions get worse while I’m sitting on my bottom. I say “this is ridiculous” to myself and get out.
1:30PM: I get into bed and try to rest as instructed. Not really working, but I try. Resting, resting, resting. VERY LOUD POP! Warm amniotic fluid is everywhere. I stand up and realize that the fluid isn’t clear and thick, black meconium is running down my legs. I call my midwife immediately and tell her the news. She suggests her apprentice come to my house and assess the situation. I am concerned. A little meconium is alright, but this is too much. I call Barry and tell him to come home immediately.
2:00PM: Barry is home and getting everything ready for the birth. The contractions are hard. I can talk to Barry but only in short sentences. He calls Lesley and updates her. I tell them I’m fine. Don’t need her help yet.
2:15PM: Something changes with my labor and Barry calls Lesley to come right away but no answer. (Her phone never rang and she gets his message an hour later! Darn cell phones.) He calls his mom and my aunt Jules and tells them to hop on the plane and come right away. They are in Amarillo and will be using a private plane to get to the birth.
3:02PM: Cindy, the apprentice and my chiropractor, arrives. I am no longer interested in chatting and the contractions are just flat hard now. She puts me on the bed and does a vaginal exam. She tells me that I’m complete and leaves the room. I think it’s weird that she took off, but I’m too busy birthing to care.
3:05PM: Lesley gets our message and calls Barry. He tries to tell her what he knows but is a bit overwhelmed with information so he hands the phone to Cindy. (While I was busy in my room laboring, Cindy tells Lesley that I’m not only completely dilated and a +2 station, but she is pretty sure the baby is frank breech.) Lesley runs out the door. My midwife Ann is speeding our way too. Cindy decides to wait for Ann to confirm the baby’s position before she tells me, so she gets on the bed and holds my hands during contractions.
3:30PM: Ann arrives out of breath and checks me. She says “Whittney, your baby is breech.” She immediately tells us our options. We can transport to the hospital or stay home. In between contractions, I say “If we go to the hospital, they’ll section me, right?” She says yes. She tells us the risks of breech birth at our house. I don’t know what to do and honestly I was too busy birthing to think clearly. Barry and Ann chat behind me. I hear “have her in the car” and “she doesn’t want to be at the hospital.” Everyone is waiting for Barry…..he says “We’re staying home.” (My hero forever.)
3:35PM: The birth team jumps to action. Cindy is still holding my hands. Barry and Ann are behind me. Abby, another apprentice is either taking notes or checking baby’s heart tones. Someone is getting the oxygen tank from the car. I have been coached to resist the urge to push and let the baby come on her own. I’m busy yelling and blowing into the bed to fight the freight train-like urge coming every minute. Donna Miller, a very wise midwife and Ann’s teacher, arrives to help. Barry stands behind me and rubs my back. I am standing at the end of the bed with my face buried in the sheets.
3:50PM: Lesley arrives and takes over holding my hands. Cindy is now sitting right under me checking the baby’s heart tones very regularly. They are perfect in the 130-145 range. I am annoyed with the checking of heart tones so often. I snap at Cindy about it and she snaps back about it being necessary. (HA!)
4:00PM: Praise the Lord Barry remembered I had put our birth photographer Lynsey’s number on the fridge. He had called her. She arrives and starts snapping away.
4:30PM: I feel focused and frustrated that I can’t push. I yell. I blow. I blow. I yell. I hear everyone around me. I remember all of a sudden that I’m not having a “normal” birth. I say “You guys, I’m kinda freaking out here that she is breech!” Everyone offers encouragement. Baby’s heart tones are fine. She is descending well. My hair is wet and sticking to my face. They ask if I want to put it up. “No!” They make me take some sips of water.
4:38PM: Baby’s little bottom can be seen. I ask Ann to tell me how much of her they can see. Side effect of Type A personality. I want to know everything.
5:00PM: I’m getting a little hacked off about the no pushing rule. Lesley offers me encouragement as I squeeze her hands hard enough to cut off the circulation. Barry’s mom and my aunt Jules land at the Arlington airport. Julie calls Barry to say they’ve landed and get the update. He tells her he can see the baby’s bottom. She decides he is nervous and obviously doesn’t know the difference between a bottom and a head. (Another HA!) Miraculously, their rental car is ready and waiting. They speed toward our apartment in North Arlington.
5:13PM: Ann tells me I can push a tiny bit during the contractions. Lesley reminds my birth team that Barry would like to catch the baby. They say he can and he gets ready.
5:23PM: Ann tells us that the baby might be a bit stunned and quiet after she is born. They plan to suction her really well to prevent any inhalation of heavy meconium. (We know now that the meconium was not because she was stressed, but because her little bottom was being squished in the birth canal!)
5:39PM: The baby’s bottom is crowning and Julie and Barry’s mom arrive. I can see their brightly colored toes and flip flops out of the corner of my eye. I think “Oh, glad they made it.” (Lesley would later tell me that Julie’s face was priceless. They still thought Barry was losing his mind and only realized he really DID see a bottom when they walked into my bedroom and saw it up close and personal. She wanted to put my hair up too. It was driving her nuts. Triple HA!) Julie is on the phone with my Mom and tells her the scoop. She couldn’t be there because she was 37 weeks pregnant with my little brother Samuel! Barry, Ann & Donna get into place behind me. They are going to coach Barry and he will catch his little beebs.
5:44PM: Baby’s feet are out and the pressure is insane. I am done. I must end this. My birth team starts yelling at me to “Push, Push!” It is odd….all this time I’m not supposed to push and now that her body is out, I have to hurry and push her head out. Fast!
5:46PM: Sweet Avery Naoma is born into her Daddy’s hands. Ann immediately inserts the suction tube before she has time to breathe or cry. Barry is holding her smiling while she is suctioned. I am trying to catch my breath and still have my face buried in the sheets. As much as I want to see her, I need just a few seconds to adjust. I hear Lesley above me reassuring Julie and Barry’s mom that she is still attached to the cord so it is fine that she isn’t breathing yet. Ann tells me to take her and talk to her. They pass her up to me and we meet. She is breathing just fine.
6:00PM: We spend the next couple of hours taking an herbal bath, nursing and doing the newborn exam. Avery weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces and is 20 inches long. Her legs keep bouncing up to her head and look bizarre! Cindy adjusts her for the first time to get her into alignment after her unusual birth. Julie goes to get Schlotzsky’s and I recruit Lesley to send an email to everyone announcing the birth.
9:30PM: The birth team is gone. I am on an adrenaline high and can’t sleep. Avery’s birth wasn’t what I planned, but it was perfect in every way.
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