There truly are not words I can muster up that can fully portray how epically hard this mama worked for this baby boy. We all thought this would be a quick & easy second-time home birth, since her first birth was fairly short, and a "breeze" in comparison to what this 2nd baby would bring. She had this amazing partner by her side the entire time, who not only supported her throughout labor physically, but cooked a full breakfast for the whole crew without even asking! I mean, talk about setting the bar high.
Mama armed herself with a badass birth team that included the two incredible women of HazelTree Midwifery, as well as their wonderful birth doula, Michelle. The support of this team was really awe-inspiring to watch over so many hours (I truly cannot wait to work with them again). She had to obviously focus through each contraction when I arrived, but in-between, we were enjoying conversation, good food, and lots of laughs. I followed them as they took a stroll through their neighborhood, which was an Autumn wonderland during this time of year in Northern Idaho!! Oh my goodness, I was so in love with watching them sway, walking hand-in-hand, over the river and through the woods together [literally].
On our way back over the bridge heading home, that shift happened; She was no longer laughing and chatting in between contractions. We knew it was time to get home, as the surges were coming harder, and closer together. After numerous stops to breathe and a few double hip squeezes, we finally made it home. Emotions overwhelmed mama, and tears started flowing. This was much harder, and much longer than her previous birth...it wasn't what she was expecting, and she wanted to meet her baby. She wanted to be done. As she cried into her husband's chest, her doula gently stepped in to let her know that she was safe, and surrounded by everyone that loves her, and supports her. Their doula encouraged mama to seek relief in the birth pool the midwives had setup while they were away, and so she did.
She sunk down deep into the water, and you could really tell that baby was low by her sacral doming (rhomboid of michaelis), which is an indicator of the second stage of labor (cervix fully dilated, and delivery of baby happens during this stage). We really thought baby would come at any minute...but then contractions slowed down, a lot. Baby was loving it in the womb, heart tones were fantastic, but mama's body (and uterus) was tired. Midwives decided to get mom out of the birth pool, and get her into the miles circuit positions. They even massaged her belly to kick-start more contractions so that she could push baby out effectively (since she was fully dilated and fully effaced). This team tried literally all the positions to get baby underneath her pubic bone, and out to greet us, and they turned to the trusty birth stool. Mom was told to push with everything she had...
This woman dug deep down...further than I think she ever even imagined was possible...and she pushed with every ounce her body would allow her in that moment. His head came out!...his head was out!! The midwife unwrapped a cord from his neck, and with another less-mighty push, his body was out and up on mom's chest. Sweet, sweet surrender...
Well, NO WONDER her delivery was so hard: Baby boy was super malpositioned! Not only was he presenting Posterior (face-up), but asynclitic as well (head shifted slightly to one side, chin not tucked down). You can tell by the crowning area on his head in pictures shown. This little baby was just trying to come out in his own unique fashion...but oh man, poor mom. She crawled onto the floor in order to deliver the placenta, all while breathing in that sweet, amazing newborn smell. As she lie into bed for the first nursing session, she soaked in the afternoon sun that peeked through their bedroom window. The mood had shifted in this small house, from tense and tired, to calm and euphoric, in the blink of an eye. The birth of baby W was one of the hardest labors I have attended in the last 7 years, but one that will empower me as a birth worker, and one that I will remember, forever. This mother's strength and persistence, the team's tender support and caution during a stressful situation, the father's unwavering support throughout everything...absolute magic to witness. I hope you enjoy reliving this story moments with me:
Natalie Bee is a Birth Photographer and Doula, a mother of four wildlings, and coffee junkie. She captures the beauty of motherhood and birth through a passionate photojournalist approach.