DawningLife Midwifery

Experienced homebirth midwives serving Metro-Atlanta and North Georgia families for over 35 years!

Manning Mitchell

On Thursday (9/6/07) morning we had a cleaning lady come to the house, a gift from my dad. I planned a bit of a day of pampering for myself in order to get out of her way. At 9:45 I had an appointment with my chiropractor. She adjusted my hips and pubic bone (ooh, feels good) and worked on some pressure points to help my hips. She told me that these pressure points could cause labor if you're ready. And if I got closer to my due-date I could come back and she'd work on the same pressure points some more. I felt awesome after my appointment.

Here's my birth story (or as best I can remember it).  Pull up a chair, it is long.
On Thursday (9/6/07) morning we had a cleaning lady come to the house, a gift from my dad. I planned a bit of a day of pampering for myself in order to get out of her way. At 9:45 I had an appointment with my chiropractor. She adjusted my hips and pubic bone (ooh, feels good) and worked on some pressure points to help my hips. She told me that these pressure points could cause labor if you're ready. And if I got closer to my due-date I could come back and she'd work on the same pressure points some more. I felt awesome after my appointment.

I had my toenails done and stopped for some yummy Taco Bell on the way home. While driving I called my best friend, Melissa and while we chatted I was having some cramps low in my belly. I thought nothing of it until I actually lost my train of thought while talking to her. Still, I thought "surely not!". I got off the phone with her and sat in a parking lot eating my lunch, then went for a haircut and came home. I decided I should finish my gifts for my birth-team just in case (but surely not!) and spent the rest of the day puttering about the house. I told Steve of my cramping but he thought, well "surely not!" I should probably mention that, although I was still in a state of denial at this point, before leaving the house that morning I had packed a towl, a change of pants, and some mama-pads in case my water broke. Hmmmm.

Around 7 PM I started writing down the timing of the contractions (yeah, ok, maybe I'm in labor??). I realized that they were coming about 9-11 minutes apart, and were about 40 seconds long. I talked to my online friend, Dorothy and she said it sounded like labor to her. I chatted and messed around on the computer, and decided to call my friend and doula, Jillanna, for advice before it got too late. It was now around 9 PM. Jillanna thought I should go ahead and give Claudia, my midwife, a heads-up. I called her and she said she was going to go ahead and go to bed, and if things progressed to call her. I was disappointed to find out that Debbie, the other midwife, and Nicole, their apprentice, were at another birth. I had really hoped to have Nicole at the birth. At this time Steve decided he'd go to bed too, just in case. I had been advised by everyone to get some sleep, but I'm not much of a sleeper on a good day, and the least bit of excitement just makes sleep out of the question. 

I ended up in a chat-room with all of my TBW buddies, half of them pregnant and all of them mothers, and had laughed and had fun while they all got excited about my labor. “CALL THE MIDWIFE!" they all typed as I described my early labor signs to them. They knew that Claudia was over an hour away, and although we had all had different labor experiences previously, they knew how fast labor could change. 

Around 11:30 I went to relax on the couch and watch TV, but I just couldn't do it. My contractions were coming about 4 minutes apart, with little ones in between, but then I would have a good 10 minute break, then close ones again. I had no experience with the slow lead-in type labor, as my water had broken with Jake, and I had gone immediately into active labor. I was having to do some breathing during the contractions, was starting to get hot-cold chills, and could not walk during contractions. I called Claudia again and she decided to come on up, since she had never been here, and was an hour away. I waited another 40 minutes or so and called Jillanna, and then woke Steve up. He got busy making the bed and getting things ready. Jillanna and Claudia arrived at the same time around 1 AM.  

Claudia checked my cervix and told me that I was dilated to around 4 cm. What she didn't tell me was that she believed the baby to be in the brow, or "military" presentation, where the widest part of the brow and face try to come through first. This isn't an ideal presentation, and can lead to a puttering labor and unusual contraction pattern. Claudia didn't want to worry any of us, and kept this information to herself. 

Some good news came soon after that. Nicole was going to be dropped off at our house after leaving the other birth. Poor Nicole had to work a double shift! But she was glad to take a long nap in our guestroom after coming to say hello to me while I labored in a big bathtub full of hot water. Claudia, after listening to me chat and watching me run around happily between contractions, had sent me off to bed around 3 AM (I think). Laying down seemed to cause my contractions to be much more intense and I wasn't comfortable at all. I spent the next few hours laboring in different positions and moving between the bathtub, the toilet and the bed. Those seemed to be my favorite three places to labor. A couple of times I sat on the birth-ball and Jillanna would rub my back. It was pure heaven, but not as comfy as the tub. My contractions were still weird, with close hard ones, followed by a break. They were very irregular. At least I was able to do a lot of dozing in between. I labored alone a lot in the tub and in bed, or Steve would lay there with me and doze or time my contractions. I would fall asleep in between contractions then open my eyes just after one and see him laying there beside me, watching me intently. I really enjoyed this relaxed aspect of home-labor, with nobody really bothering me unless I wanted them to, and everyone getting rest, with no one getting impatient.  

I became very discouraged when the sun started to come up on Friday morning. I thought for sure I'd be having this baby in the wee hours. I was getting tired as well and wanted to yell out "This is just too hard!" a few times, but I kept my voice low and vocalized a LOT during contractions. Claudia had gone to bed in the guestroom at some point, after telling us that my labor was progressing OK, just slowly. She left the fetal and mama monitoring to Nicole. Jake woke up, came in to check on me but seemed to want little to do with me in my current state. That was fine with me. Steve made pancakes for everyone and I ate ONE whole bite.

Nothing unusual happened for a while, then contractions got very intense and I could feel a lot more pressure. I asked for another bath of hot water. When I got in I noticed that I was bleeding a bit more and Nicole said that was really good and meant that I was dilating and progressing. Then I noticed that my lopsided belly, which had been lopsided to the right side almost my entire pregnancy and labor was really REALLY lopsided to the left now. That meant that the baby's positioning had shifted, and was probably when the presentation changed from brow-first to crown-first. I started to feel a bit "pushy" in the tub but after the long, hard labor (in my opinion, at least) I was a little bit afraid of the pushing stage, expecting it to last 2 hours again, like it did with Jake's birth, so I didn't say anything. I was SO tired. Nicole wasn't fooled though, and went to wake up Claudia. 

Claudia came in and said she wanted to check my cervix again when I got out of the tub. When she checked she told us that I was at 9.5 centimeters and the baby was at 0 position. Everyone was in the bedroom and Jake was playing in the living room (I think). While Steve and Claudia talked, I felt a BIG contraction and had some pretty intense ones. Jillanna asked if I wanted to hang onto something and I grabbed her hands and pulled myself up. I felt a pushing contraction and fought it until the end. Claudia watched this and said "Don't be afraid to push" and next contraction I did. I felt like I'd pull poor Jillanna over on top of me, and grabbed for Steve's hands. Jake came in the room and said "Mommy?" and about that time I yelled and he kind of freaked. I said "Take Jake outside!" and Jillanna did so. The baby's head was coming out, and after they told me to slow down for a couple of pushes ("I can't!" I said, but they told me how to breathe and slow down) I heard Claudia say that she was checking for a cord around the neck. She didn't find one but she did find a hand coming out beside the face. When I heard her say "nuchal hand" I wanted to convey to her that I REALLY wanted this baby the rest of the way out NOW, and that anything to slow down that process just wasn't acceptable. Instead I just said "Please! Please!" a couple of times. She must have understood because she popped the hand out, out came the shoulders, and the next thing I knew I had a baby on my chest. I pushed for a grand-total of four minutes. I peeked and saw that I had another boy. Manning Mitchell Harris was born at 9:10 AM. 

Claudia and Nicole carefully delivered the placenta to prevent any bleeding like I had had with Jake. They waited until Manning was finished with a good long first meal before even separating him from the placenta and doing his newborn exam. Jillanna was called in to cut the cord. Steve suggested that she do it, and I agreed and I was so sad that she missed the birth while caring for Jake, but I was also thrilled that I had someone there that I trusted and loved to keep him occupied so that he wouldn't be upset by the birth.

When things settled down Jillanna brought me an energy bar and gave me a little bite. I almost tore the rest out of her hand, I was starving! Everyone teased me because my tummy was growling loudly. I asked Steve to make me a nice Amy's frozen pizza. 

I was a little disappointed because we got NO still photographs of the labor and birth, and, although Steve videotaped some of the labor, and started doing some video once we found out that I was 9.5 cm, there is no video of the baby coming out. Things just happened too fast. I'm far from devastated though. Everything went very well, and thats why I'm writing this long birth-story. 

Manning was 8 lbs 4 oz and 21 inches long. He's slept a lot since his birth, has nursed just enough, and wanted to sleep close to mommy his first night. His big brother, who's attitude towards the baby I was really worried about, has totally and completely fallen in love. He kisses and gently touches Manning all over and so far shows no jealousy when he's being held or nursed by Mommy. He's even protective, and got a little pissed when I was trimming Manning's long fingernails.

I'm very pleased with the homebirth. I'm afraid that, with the unusual presentation and my "abnormal" labor that a hospital birth may have had a less-than-desirable outcome. Its possible and maybe probable that pitocin may have been used due to my uneven contraction pattern, which would have shoved the baby down face-first and never given him a chance to turn. This would have likely resulted in a c-section. I'm a very lucky woman to have such an awesome team and husband. I'm on bedrest now to prevent any damage to my pelvic floor and to keep me from having bladder issues like I've had since Jake's birth.

My family knows about the homebirth now, since we called them last night around dinner time and couldn't really explain why we were at home. All prying questions were answered with "Hush-up and look at that beautiful boy."