Madeline's Birth Story
We had tried for YEARS to have a baby and we miscarried in early 2013. That baby was due Nov 7th, 2013 and on that day we found out we were pregnant again. Such a bittersweet day for our family, grieving the baby we lost and celebrating the new baby on the way. We were both always hoping for a girl and a few months later we found out it WAS A GIRL. She was happy and healthy and growing well. My pregnancy was normal, low risk, and relatively easy. I lost weight to start and gained only a small amount towards the end. Each checkup with our midwife went well and always ended with a quick ultrasound to check on little Madeline and see that she was doing great. The only thing remarkable was her position. She remained breech, or bum down, well past the time she should be head down in preparation for birth. When we started rounding the 35 week mark with a head's up baby our midwife, Rebecca, suggested we try anything and everything to get her to turn and scheduled a procedure with a doctor at the University of Utah Hospital for a couple weeks out to try and poke and prod her into position should she not find the way on her own. If these remedies failed and she remained breech our dreams of a low risk home birth would be gone, and we'd be preparing for a likely surgical birth at the hospital. I was willing and able to change our plans if needed but wanted so much to have a more simple and intimate experience at home. The night before our inversion was scheduled at the hospital, I felt that my belly was a little different. That the hard lump at the top seemed to have moved. Maybe she did finally get the memo?
The next morning, we sent a text our Midwife Rebecca to let her know that MAYBE the baby had finally cooperated. We asked could we just come in for a quick check before we wasted a trip up to the hospital? Sure! So over we went, and she popped the wand on to see a head DOWN baby! What a relief! I was 37 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Most first-time moms go to 41 weeks or beyond without interventions. I figured we probably have 3-4 weeks to go. MY sister had recently just gone over her due date with her first baby and my own mother had delivered right around her due date both times. I was feeling great, healthy and not at all "done" like so many moms near the end. We went home. So excited to have a head down baby and to finish some big projects around the house. We had taken apart our kitchen to paint and replace the cabinet doors. I have been crawling on my hands and knees for hours just a couple days before scrubbing the floor and scraping off paint splatters. Plus, it was “Taylorsville Dayzz” that weekend which I was so looking forward to! We got home and I sat down on my yoga ball. I did a few circles in each direction. Babies can sometimes flip back, and I was not having it! I wanted to make sure she was good and tucked in my pelvis so she wouldn't have room to flip back. I stood up and felt like I was peeing my pants. I waddled-ran to our little downstairs bathroom and there was a steady stream of fluid for about 2-3 minutes. It was about 4 in the afternoon on June 26th. I was in shock. Matt was right there with me and I told him I think my water just broke! I had never felt the sensation before, but I had been a doula for years at this point and seen dozens of births plus finished a year of midwifery school myself. I told him to call our midwife. We had just seen her a couple hours before. She was a little shocked too. She said she would come over that evening to bring some supplies and to check on us. I then told Matt our house is a disaster! Our fridge was in the living room and our cabinets had no doors and I was fixing to give birth apparently. I just said can you please get your brothers and our brother-in-law over and try to slap the kitchen back together? So, he did that, and I went to try and relax. I remember I folded some baby clothes and cloth diapers. Our midwife showed up to bring all the supplies she usually delivers a couple weeks before birth. A tub to labor in, stuff like that. She gave us a list of a few last things we might need and showed us how to inflate and set up the tub. Then she checked on me and the baby. Sure enough, my water had broken, but baby was tolerating it all. She was as happy as a clam and I was doing well and so she said, we wait. Usually within 12-24 hours contractions begin and labor is well under way. She said that we should try and rest and call when we needed her. Matt and our brothers putting the house back together the whole time. That night after the work was done, we went out to dinner. A last date night for however long. We slept normally that night and woke on Friday morning with no signs of labor. I puttered around for the day while Matt kept working on cleaning the house up. I remember I went to Smith's Market place with my sister to buy a few last things we needed and try and get some walking in which can help labor along. That afternoon around the 24-hour mark we went into our midwife’s office. She wanted to check and see how baby was doing. We got a non-stress test. Baby was doing great and I was still not in labor. She asked if I would like some herbs to try and "get things going?" Why not, so I took a chug. Then she gave me some castor oil that I could rub on my belly, she said it can help too but has less crappy side effects then taking it internally. We went home. Nothing labor-like to speak of. We went to bed that night like normal.
I woke up about 4 am with a crampy backache. Nothing strong or regular but enough to not sleep well. I went downstairs and let Matt sleep. After all, I knew we were in for a long day and I would need his help more later. I watched some TV, hung out on the ball, did some stretching, napped a little on the couch. I called my mom sometime early that morning and asked her if she would like to come walk with me. We walked around my neighborhood and over to the golf course to get some breakfast at the little cafe. I had to stop and breathe through a few cramps, but I still would not call them contractions. Matt was awake when I got home. We hung around a little and went back to the midwife’s office around 11 am for another check and NST. My mom said she would go home for a while and come back that afternoon to see if she could help any. I had a few contractions while we were there. Nothing big or painful. I would not have called it anything if I hadn't been waiting for two days to go into labor. Baby girl was still doing well and my health was good, BUT it had been 43 hours or so since my water had broken and the risk of complications and infection do start to rise the longer you go. My midwife recommended some more herbs, a different blend this time. She really thought these might do the trick. I took a swig and off we went. The midwife said she would be seeing us soon. I doubted that very much. Most women are in labor for many hours before it was truly active enough to call their birth team over. I thought maybe sometime that night or the next morning. It was around noon or so when we left.
I did not make it out to the parking lot before the first real contraction hit!! I crawled into the car and told Matt to get me home! I called my doula Terra on the way, just a heads up that I still wasn't in labor but maybe I would be soon and that we would keep her posted. We got home after a hard car ride. I was twisted around kneeling on the seats at one point because I could not sit flat! I told Matt we had a LONG way to go. That he should just get lunch and I would go upstairs and rest or something. I started pacing around my room. I was making a loop from around my bed, into the baby’s room and back around. A tiny loop in our small condo. I could not even finish the loop before another contraction would hit. I was in shock. I was dazed. I sat down on the potty and braced myself with a hand on the tub and another on the sink and I could not believe how intense everything was. I started to pace again the felt like I couldn’t take more then a few steps before another contraction would hit. I started timing them. I got out my little contraction timing app. START, STOP, START, STOP, START, STOP, START, STOP. I looked down. The contractions were 80 seconds long and 90 seconds apart. I was getting a 10 SECOND break before the next one hit. I wasn’t crazy. They really were barely stopping. This was not how early labor goes. Where are the 5-minute apart contractions? Where is my break!? The tub is my happy place. Things were moving so fast I started filling up our little tub. I got in and laid on my side with a leg thrown up over the side. Matt heard all the commotion and came to check on me. He was like “What’s going on?? Do you want me to call Rebecca?” “NO!! NO this is early labor! Babe this just started. We have hours to go. Do not call her! I don’t want her here all day and all night. This just barely started” I don’t know how much of that I actually SAID between the groans of almost constant contractions. I think some of it. I thought all of it. He stepped out in the hallway and called her as I’m screaming NO. They talk for a little while. How I’m doing, what’s been going on the last HOUR since we saw her. Then she asked to talk to me. Matt held the phone up and I begin a contraction, I am groaning, and I can’t speak. After a moment he gets back on the phone. She said she’ll be over in a few minutes. I’m trying to protest. He starts milling around and getting the birth room ready. I get out of the tub at some point and Rebecca arrives. She checks on my vitals, checks on baby. Things had slowed down a little at this point. I could at least catch my breath. I told her I know the tub can slow things down. She said, “I think it’s good things slowed down a little” She asked if she could check my cervix. The one and only internal check I had my entire birth. She said baby was low, very low, she was surprised by that I was dilated to a 4, maybe 5. OK, so yeah. That was early labor. I don’t know how I am going to get through this. I tell her it hurts so much. I show her where. Right in the front down low on my hips. She said she forgot her tens machine and asked if I would like to try it. It might really help with the pain. It often helped with the type of pain I was describing. I said sure. She said she would go get it and be back soon. I suspect she wanted to give us a little time. A watched pot never boils. So, she left briefly.
I don’t remember much. It’s all a blur. Matt started filling the now inflated birth tub with water. I paced around some more and things picked up again fast, or maybe it never really went away, but having Rebecca there distracted me. At one point I was alone again and could not take it anymore. I got naked and hopped into the birth tub. I heard Rebecca’s voice downstairs again asking Matt how I was and where was I. I shouted down that I had just got into the birth tub. At some point Terra showed up. Seeing her beautiful face was so comforting to me. She said almost nothing. She just smiled at me. Within a few minutes I felt like my body was pushing. It was an overwhelming sensation. Like a violent vomit that you can’t control, but down. Rebecca asked if I was pushing. I told her I was trying not to and that I knew it wasn’t time. She said if I wasn’t forcing it and my body was doing it on its own it was fine. The contractions had slowed down now. I was getting breaks. I remember just laying my head down on the side of the birth tub and falling asleep briefly between each one. The tub was set up in Madeline’s room and her little baby quilt was so cute. I remember focusing in on some of the patterns and designs as I zoned out. Matt was there and I would reach out for his hand. Each time a contraction would start I would swim over to one side or anther and scream. I was a loud birther. I didn’t expect that. I’m not one to scream out if I stub my toe or hurt myself. I expected I’d be more of a quiet birther. I even remember looking at Terra and telling her “I thought I would be more graceful” She just smiled at me. I don’t think she said a thing. She was there to support me, and she took some amazing pictures that I cherish. At one point the pain was so intense that I was crying out NO,NO,NO! To which Rebecca replied Yes,yes,yes! I could have hit her. She also offered me some Tylenol and I couldn’t respond with anything other than a dirty look. I told her that my hips where breaking! I insisted that my hips were breaking at one point. The pressure from the baby’s head and the rapid descent into my pelvis made it feel like the big bony part of my hips were just going to snap in-two! At one point, Matt was reaching into the water and feeling the babies head as she began to crown. That was very cool. My mom and my sister where both in the basement. I told Terra the baby was coming and asked her to go get them. They could hear my screaming from two floors down. I had only been in labor a couple of hours and they were worried something was wrong. They asked her if I was already pushing and she said yes. It was time for them to come up if they wanted to see the birth. They came up into the hallway and peaked through the door. Matt and the midwife where tub-side with me and my mom and sister and my sister’s baby Felix were just a few feet behind watching from the hallway. Everything happened so quickly, my brother-in-law didn’t even have time to some pick him up. As her head was crowning, I was kneeling and started to instinctively put one foot up into a lunge. The Midwife said “Oh you might not want to do that, she might……”
Madeline came rocketing into the world. One push and she was born from head to toe. She literally torpedoed out and nearly crashed into the other wall of the birth tub. Rebecca told Matt to pick up his baby. He lifted her out of the water and placed her into my arms. He knelt down and held her with me. I was hurting still, and in total shock. A baby had just flown out of my body! I looked around the room. Our midwife was bustling around checking baby’s vitals. Terra was snapping photos and my mom and sister where crying just over my shoulder in the hallway. The baby let out a few cries, just enough to let us know she was breathing well. I turned to Matt and said, “Do you love her?” He said, “Yes.” and it was true. I learned then that some parents are hit with the instant and overwhelming love, and for some bonding is slower. I wanted her and I wanted to take care of her and protect her, but I was also just in total shock that she had come rocketing out so fast. 3 weeks early and after about 4 hours of active labor she was here. 6 lbs. 5 oz. Tiny and early and covered in vernix, but healthy and here and perfect. She peed on me. I think she was marking her territory. I held her a while and tried not to think about how much I was still hurting. Matt cut the cord after 10 minutes or so. Then the placenta was delivered. It was time to get out of the tub. Matt got to get baby all to himself while I was rinsed off and helped out of the tub and across the hall into bed. Baby got to go meet her grandparents downstairs. They had arrived just a few minutes after she was born. The next few hours she and I were taken care of. Baby nursed and family was in and out. Jack and Patty visited for a few minutes. My sister went to get me dinner. I really wanted a Cafe Rio burrito of all things. Terra milled around and helped get me set up and took more pictures. The baby got her full exam and Rebecca cleaned up and left and there we were, a family of 3. Our baby safely in our arms. The world has never been the same since.
Madeline Marie Steadman
Born at home in the water 6/28/2014 at 4:13 pm
6 LBS 5 OZ and 19 inches long