When Angelina Belle was Born

I found the link to the picture book I put together after Angelina was born.  So it is time for a trip down memory lane!
(warning: there is a little bit of blood in a few pics, so if you are squeamish at all, you probably should just skip this post)

It was September 20th, a Wednesday morning.  My due date of Sept. 3rd had come and gone like a faint memory.  My mom had flown in, oh about a week and a half before, in anticipation of Angelina's impending arrival.  I had decided to invite all my mom's to be at the birth this time around.

Wednesday's meant a trip to see my midwife, Carol Denny and her daughter, and then intern, Mary Gibbons.  These ladies are just fantastic and if anyone is considering having a home birth in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, you should definitely give them a call.

I got up at 5am while the rest of the house slept.  Since the baby was well past the due date, even if we were wrong with our calculations, we felt it was time to do what we could to help get the baby out.  Carol was planning on stripping the membranes at our appointment that afternoon, as that often is an effective means to start labor.  But I was hoping to avoid that procedure.  I decided to try doing my own natural labor induction, nipple stimulation, to see if labor would start.  I did 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off, twice.  Good strong contractions started after the first 20 minutes.  But I had to keep up with the nipple stimulation in order for the contractions to stay in the "active" range - one every 5 minutes lasting for at least 1 minute.  I called Carol a little before 8am to let her know what was going on.   She said to stop doing any stimulation and see if they would continue on their own over the next 2-3 hours.

Okay.... now what?  Being the restless and impatient mom-to-be, I decided we should all go for a walk in the cool of the morning.  (remember, this was in Phoenix, so it was still plenty hot!)  I wasn't going to sit down and let the moment pass.  I wanted to at least be waddling as briskly as I could to help encourage labor to begin in earnest. :)  We put Trinity in the stroller and David, grandma and myself all headed down the street.  We only made it five houses away from home and my water broke.  Woo-hoo, we were in business!

I called Carol back and let her know my water had broken and she said they would be over soon.  I actually tried to talk her out of it because I knew it was her one office day and she would probably be booked with appointments.  (not to mention that this was the second time I had my baby on her office day!)  I figured we could always call her when things were more progressed.  But you just don't know what is going to happen with a pregnancy, so it was probably better that they came on over.

We had quite the houseful for the event:
  • Barbara - my mom, we set her up with the task of recording the contractions
  • Carol - David's mom, we tasked her with taking pictures  
  • Mary Jeanette - my step mom, who would have been tasked with taking video, but the camera decided not to work that day.  (maybe for the best!?)  
  • Carol - midwife
  • Mary - midwife, she just officially passed her testing and is now a full fledged midwife - Congratulations Mary!
  • Elsie - Mary's daughter that she was still nursing
  • Amy - Mary's sister also came to assist with childcare as needed
  • Trinity 
  • David   
I did most of my laboring on the ball.  I would walk around between contractions, then get on the ball during the contraction to help drop the baby.

David's mom applying counter-pressure to relieve my back labor.
Carol, on the couch. 

My first check had me at 4cm.  The second check was at 1pm and I was at 5cm and 75% effaced.  Good progress.  The third check was at 3:30 and I was at 7cm.  It was sometime after that third check that I decided that we should order Chinese food.  I knew that if I waited much longer I would hit transition and wouldn't care about anything anymore.  Eating would be good.  It would give me the energy I was going to need to finish up this labor.

So Mary Jeanette got everyone's order and picked up the food.  It was such a cozy environment in which to labor.  A table full of Chinese take out cartons, a bunch of women chattering away around the dining room table, as I continued to walk my circular path around and around, carrying my plate and eating my food along the way.  This was definitely one of those moments when I was glad I was having my baby at home and not at the hospital.  No food allowed in the hospital - think "ice chips." *shudder*

Meanwhile, the birthing tub was up and filled and just beckoning to me.  Unfortunately, my contractions continued to be irregular without the nipple stimulation and Carol was concerned that we would lose momentum if I got in the pool.  The warm, relaxing waters are the home-birth equivalent of getting an epidural.  You do initially lose some of the intensity.... a good thing when you are in labor!  At 5pm I was checked again and had reached 8cm.  Carol gave me the go ahead for the tub and I was definitely ready!

Ah, relief!  I was definitely showing the signs of transition.  Before I got in the tub, I was shivering between contractions.  After I got in the tub, I stopped shivering, but I kept burping!  It was hard to remember to relax at this point.

David was making me smile with some joke between contractions.  It was a welcome relief from the very powerful transition contractions.  You gotta love a man who can make you smile, however weak it is, during transition!

I was feeling a lot of pressure and feeling like I needed to push, but it wasn't overwhelming yet.  Carol had me do a practice push and checked my dilation to see if I would go to a full 10cm.  No such luck - I stayed at 9cm.

Since I wasn't getting full dilation, Carol suggested another tactic.  I moved to the bathroom and sat on the toilet through some contractions to really get gravity on our side, help get the baby down, and hopefully get a stronger urge to push.

It only took a few contractions and then I really needed to push! (man, those midwives are sooo smart!)

Carol assisting in the bathroom and Mary waiting by the door.

I was given the option of going back to the tub or getting into bed.  I opted for my bed because I didn't want the soothing water of the tub to slow things down at all.  (most likely wouldn't have, but when you are ready to push, you are ready to push!  hmmm...go all the way down the hall to the tub or walk a few paces and get into bed.... bed wins!)  This was at 7pm when I was getting in bed because I remember seeing Trinity walk by the bedroom door with Grandma Barbara as it was her bedtime.  Had I been in my right mind and not a woman literally about to birth a child, I would have had her stay up the extra 15 minutes to see her baby sister born.  But she probably wouldn't have remembered it anyway, so no great loss.

Let the pushing begin!
Thanks to the cropping, what you don't see in this picture is Angelina's little head just starting to crown.

A little breather as the head is fully birthed.  I was catching my breath but I wasn't given much time.  Carol instructed me to push one more time.  I remember thinking, "Don't I get a break?  My contraction is over!" (for those of you who haven't been through this, normally, you only push during the contractions and rest in between)

David getting the first look at his new daughter

What I didn't know was that the baby's heart rate had dropped so she wanted to get her out.  One more push and here she was... the whole slimy, bloody, screaming, beautiful little thing that she was!

All in all, less than ten minutes of pushing. (a big THANK YOU to Jesus!)

I did have a two inch long tear, but since it was clean-edged and straight, I opted not to have it stitched up. It healed up fine all by itself with me just being conscious to sit with my legs together for a couple of weeks. (just say "no" to Indian style :)

The grandma's come around to get a closer look at their newest grand-daughter.

There is nothing finer than snuggling up with your just born child.

But there is still work to do.  Once the cord stopped pulsing, we laid her on my belly and it was time to let Daddy cut the life line to mom.

Then she's all mine again. :)

Well, almost.  She still needs to be weighed and measured and dressed.  See that little bit of conehead?  Trinity didn't have that at all.  She never dropped into the birth canal until I was pushing.  In fact, my water didn't break with Trinity until I was pushing.  She had the most perfect round head you ever saw.

Angelina means little angel.
Belle means beautiful.

...and she was, and is, definitely our beautiful little angel!


  1. Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. :)


  2. Loved this story, especially your description of how cozy it was with the chinese food cartons scattered on the table . . . kinda captures what home birth is about, you know?

    Oh, and "just say 'no' to indian style" had me laughing so hard. I didn't know it was an option to refuse stitches!