Monday, June 13, 2016

Spencer's Birth Story

The birth story of Spencer Mason Halliday born May 19, 2016 at 1:29pm. 6 lbs 14 oz. 19.5"

 On the morning of May 19th I woke up to a really intense contraction a little after 8am. I still had 12 days until my due date and assumed it was just a Braxton Hicks contraction which I mostly just found irritating so I ignored it and promptly dozed back off. A few minutes later I woke up to another one, rolled over to get more comfortable and as it subsided I dozed off again. After the third or fourth time I was awoken by one they had gotten my attention and I decided that maybe I had better take them more seriously. I lay awake at this point but stayed in bed because I was sleepy and didn't want to start the day yet. The contractions went on for a little bit in a lazy pattern until just before 9am when it occurred to me to get up and go to the bathroom and then and move around and take a shower to see if they would go away. I had a couple of them in the shower but they were short---lasting only 10 to 15 seconds but sort of intense. They didn't feel like they were going anywhere but they weren't going away either.

By around 10:15am I had counted more than 6 contractions within an hour. As a general rule of thumb I have always considered this an indication of true labor more so than having them a specific number of minutes apart. I decided I should text Rob to give him heads up that we were going to have a baby that day so that he could get things in order at work to be able to go on family leave. I emphasized to him not to hurry because I really believed it would be later that day or that evening. In fact I didn't even message my midwife in case I was wrong that it was actually labor.

 Curious if I was making any progress and hoping it might indicate how far into labor I could be I tried to check my cervix but I couldn't feel the cervical os. It seemed to me to be very posterior (way to the back of my body) which for me has historically indicated my baby was still high and I was not far progessed.

 After a while I got Hayden up and told her she needed to get her household assignments done because we had some things to get done to be ready for the birth. I didn't indicate yet that I thought that would be today because I wasn't sure myself still. Caleb and Nate were gone to seminary and Max was still asleep. I thought I would just keep things low key until my labor picked up.

 Over the next hour my contractions were somewhat schizophrenic. At one point around 11:15am I even texted Rob back that they had petered out and that he should take his time. Then within 10 minutes I was messaging him back again that I had changed my mind and things have picked back up again. Like I said schizophrenic!

My crazy texts to Rob.  Make up your mind woman!

At 11:29am I called my midwife and gave her a heads up that I was for sure in labor but same as I told Rob, I didn't feel it was imminent and she didn't need to rush out. I even had a good strong contraction while talking to her and I talked right through it with little difficulty so this again made me think I had a long time yet to go. When we hung up she said, "Keep me informed about where things are at."

 When I got off the phone I started getting some things out of the birth supply box to prepare the room. We had a large painters tarp to duct tape to the bed under our sheets but I had forgotten to buy duct tape so I sent one of my boys to borrow some from my friend Johnell around the corner. My mom had given me a beautiful birth gown for my birthday in December and I had it carefully tucked away for this day. I decided it was time to go ahead and put it on. When I walked out into the living room wearing it Hayden's eyes got big and she grinned and said, "Why are you wearing that?!" I put my finger over my mouth conspiratorially and smiled. She came over and hugged me and then jumped into action feeding and dressing the babies for the day. I went back to my room to get some more things ready and Hayden came in and helped me make up the bed. I had bought a set of lovely white cotton sheets with sweet little blue rose bouquets on them to have on my bed postpartum so those went on first, covered by the painter's tarp, topped by my special yellow birth sheets I have used in my previous births and then washed and put them away for safe keeping. They are bright and sunny with trellised pink flowers on them and they carry the echoes of joy I felt at the births of my other babies. In the days preceding, Hayden and I had put up cheery little banners made of cards with my birth affirmations on them. My affirmations were selected phrasing from some of my favorite hymns along with a couple of them reminding me that I would be doing all of this for the love of my baby.

My birth banners.  Hayden and I made them and the pom poms.

Once we completed my little nest and the littles were fed and dressed I told Hayden she could tell Max it was birth day. Max was equally excited. I told them they needed to watch the littles for a little bit while I lie down to stay rested in preparation for the hard part of labor (still thinking this would be a nighttime birth). I had just climbed onto my bed when I started having a pretty intense contraction that required my full focus. Part way through it I was startled by a sensation that felt like my water broke. This was weird for me because my water usually doesn't break until my babies are actually being born. I got up to go to the bathroom to check and was more startled that actually what I had felt was bleeding. Many women experience a "bloody show" and obviously I'm familiar with that but this seemed like more blood than I have seen in early labor. 

I immediately called my midwife Stephanie and told her the situation. At this point we both agreed she now needed to come out and assess things so she started heading over. I also texted Rob and told him things were getting weird.

 The discovery that I was bleeding gave me some anxiety and also made me a bit queasy at the site of my own blood so I had Hayden call my sister Shannan to come over in case I got woozy or the situation became emergent. In my anxious state I could feel myself losing focus so I decided to start a warm bath and get in to calm myself. Throughout my pregnancy I took a lot of comfort from listening to the hymn "Be Still My Soul" as performed by David Archuletta so I asked Hayden to turn on "my hymn".

 As soon as I was in my warm bath with the music playing I began to feel peaceful and calm again. Shannan arrived and shortly after that Caleb and Nate came home from seminary and then Rob got home about 12:30pm. Relaxing in the bathtub I would have the occasional contraction but there was no real pattern to them and they were short and didn't feel like I am used to them feeling. I said something to Rob about my labor pattern being "wrong" and it was going to be a long labor. 

Stephanie arrived at the house at about 10 minutes after 1:00pm and Rob brought her straight to me at the bath. She settled some of her equipment down in the bedroom and and asked me a few questions about how the labor was going. We chatted for probably 8 to 10 minutes and then decided that she should check my cervix to see how far into labor I was.

The boys made it home from seminary in time to welcome their brother

Stephanie arrived 19 minutes before Spencer did.

I asked her if I needed to step out of the tub for her to be able to check me. She said no I was fine to stay put. She checked but as she did so it stirred up a contraction that was way more intense than the others that I had been feeling. She stepped away from me to allow me a moment to recover from the contraction and I assumed that she had not had a chance yet to find my cervix or to check me---again I assumed perhaps my cervix was very anterior and the baby was high up; again; thinking it was still early labor.

Stephanie does not interrupt during contractions so as I was breathing through this one she removed her glove and threw it away and slipped quietly out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. As the contraction subsided I looked up and remember thinking, "Where did she go? Isn't she going to check?" Just as I thought this she popped her head back into the bathroom and said, "I'm going to come in here and set up now because you're about 8 cm.". Everyone in the room (myself included) was shocked.

 After we all recovered from the surprise someone asked me if I wanted to get out of the tub and settle on my bed. I was surprised again at my own answer when I said no. I felt like things were going fine where I was at and I didn't want to upset the apple cart. I had not intended to have a water birth but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. As I was reasoning all of that out another contraction was already upon me and this one seemed as intense as the last. I had been having Hayden replay "my hymn" over and over again and just about then the song ended so I asked her to start it again. Then with my eyes closed in concentration I muttered, "I freaking love that kid..." Shannan---confused---said, "Which kid? Henry?" I said, "No. David Archuletta!" This gave everyone a good laugh.

After a few more contractions I wanted more leverage so I moved from seated in the tub to kneeling. I could feel him moving down and that is a pretty big sensation so I reached down to feel his head to give myself some focus. Instead of his head I could feel my bag of water bulging ahead of him. The pressure from my bag was super annoying to me and I tried breaking it with my fingers but it was firm. Then the next contraction hit and it didn't matter because he was coming right then.

Gone to the stars

 I was pushing and it had reached the most intense moment of labor when all of the sensation is overwhelming and my eyes are closed tight and my mind goes otherworldly. "It is said that mothers in labor leave their bodies and travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies and return to this world together." I believe it. I have been there and back. I reached a place where I cried out to the Lord to help me bring him here and in that moment all of the sounds of the room were hushed except that angelic voice singing my hymn.

I can so clearly recall which words he was singing at that second, "Be still my soul, thy best thy Heavenly Friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end..." The irony was not missed on me that this was the exact phrase I had written down as one of my birth affirmations. It was incredibly personal to me that the timing was so aligned.

Just then, the joyful end came as Spencer Mason Halliday slipped into my hands---in the caul (still in his bag of water) at 1:29pm.

Spencer swam into this world still in the caul.

I lifted him up to my chest and leaned back in the tub to pull him close and get a better look at him.

Meeting my little man

The children; who had all been there for the whole thing; scooted in closer so they could get a better look at him. Stephanie (who knows me so well) placed a lovely red towel over us because she knows how much I love postpartum pictures but also that I want to preserve my modesty in those pictures

Postpartum bliss

Mellow little guy

There was such a beautiful sacred peace and joy in the room. When the excitement settled down and things were very quiet Stephanie whispered to me, "Do you feel that?"  I felt the Spirit so strong in that moment that I was pretty sure I knew what she meant but to clarify I asked, "Feel what?"

 She said, "God is in this room."

I did feel it. Everyone there did. It was undeniable.

Spencer's first meal.  (Cord still attached)

We have a tradition of using a braided cord tie instead of a clip.
Piper got some last minute instructions from Stephanie about cutting the cord.
Piper cutting the cord.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Henry's Birth Story

A little history:

Ok so this story would be incomplete without a little background on my birth history.

My first labor was a planned homebirth that ended in a transport for failure to progress after 5 days of labor. It started on Christmas Eve with contractions consistently 5 minutes apart the entire time. My baby was malpositioned (posterior) which made it all back labor and I didn't progress normally. Caleb Ethan 7lbs. 5 oz. was born Dec. 30th after a long difficult labor and a host of interventions which I didn't plan for. These included an epidural and pitocin which led to me needing oxygen and having to be coached when to push while lying flat on my back in the lithotomy positions with my legs in stirrups. It felt so detached and unnatural and so unlike what I'd hoped for and planned. As thrilled as I was to have my baby I had regret and depression about my experience. I also lost confidence in my body and struggled intensely with nursing.

Baby #2 my labor was also long and difficult (posterior also) at about 29 hours but I was able to achieve a gentler quieter experience in which I labored in a birth tub and delivered Nathaniel Ryan 6 lbs. 15oz. on a birth stool in my home.

By baby #3 my confidence had grown from my prior success and this time around; although still long (23 hrs) and still back labor with a posterior baby; I was at a place of calm and peace. I gave birth to Hayden Elisabeth a 7 lb baby girl in my bedroom as the rising sun was filtering through my windows. It was a sweet spiritual experience with my two little boys present to welcome their sister.

Baby #4 I was feeling like a pro when I slid into home plate at under 20 hrs. (18 actually)! As per my pattern it started with back labor and a posterior baby but just a few hours into it I felt his position change and the relief was significant and it was the first time ever I felt contraction in my abdomen which was a welcome feeling after 4 back labors. Maxwell Hyrum turned out to be my easiest birth and my biggest baby at 8 lbs. 4 oz. After each birth I would always make comments about them that sounded like critique like, "I wish I had...." Or "I would do this differently next time..." Rob would just laugh at my expectations and would say, "This is absurd Tracie! Just be content with it! You are a birth perfectionist!"

Well on Baby # 5 I finally achieved my dream birth. I was in the best physical shape I'd ever been in and I had no back labor whatsoever. Because labor progressed so rapidly we were shocked when I hit transition and felt the baby coming just 3 hrs. after waking up with my first contraction! Piper Katherine literally slipped into my own hands and Rob and I lifted her up to my chest together. It was one of the most beautiful spiritual moments of my life.

After Piper was born I often got the comment, “You are so lucky you have such short easy labors!” You can’t imagine how annoying that comment is to a woman who had experienced 4 very long very uncomfortable posterior labors. I experienced more labor for my first birth than most people experience with all of theirs combined. Not that I was looking for a medal of valor but it’s pretty invalidating to disregard my prior labors based on the fact that I finally got to experience “normal” labor and delivery.  Regardless, as my due date with this baby had approached I wondered if I would experience the same labor pattern as I had with Piper or if I would go back to the longer back labors. I recognized that baby’s position can play a major role in the progress of labor and it left me curious as to which way things were going to go this time.

Henry's birth story:

My original due date was May 28. However, I have had a tendency to deliver my babies a few days to a week early and suspected I might this time as well. In fact; our family all wrote down our guesses and I had actually picked the 19th. Well May 19 was a Sunday and although I still believed it might be the day my baby would arrive I wanted to treat it as normal as possible. I am the chorister in the children's organization of my church and I had promised the children that I would bring them a homemade treat as a reward for a recent performance they had done. I had spent Saturday baking 150 cookies and I told myself I could not have this baby until I had successfully delivered them to the children! So I prepared my lesson for the week and off to church we went.

That evening we went to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner as we usually do on Sundays but this evening, shortly after dinner I announced that I wanted to go home. This surprised both Rob and my mom because we usually stay until close to bedtime. I felt fine physically but I had a nagging thought that it would be smart to get to bed early to get some rest "just in case”. Looking back I think I just knew it would be that night.

We went to bed early and I felt well rested by the time I started having contractions at some time around 2am. The first one I had was intense enough that it woke me. I lay there kind of drowsy and dazed and waited for it to end thinking, "That felt like a labor contraction not just a Braxton Hicks.” Then just as I was dozing back off another one came. I rolled over and tried to fall back to sleep when a third one hit and this time I decided to check the time strictly as a reference point. It was 2:30 on the dot. At this point I was wide awake and decided to pay closer attention. It only took a couple more of those to convince me I wanted to take a hot bath and to wash my hair in case this was the real deal. I took a quick bath and then got out to blow dry and curl my hair. Every few minutes I'd have to set down the curling iron and grip the counter to cope. I knew Rob would be getting up for work soon and smiled to myself thinking he would be so happy his 12 weeks of paternity leave had arrived.

When his alarm went off at 3:00am I was having one so intense it was knocking my knees out from under me and had wiped that smile off my face. I turned to him and said, "I DON'T THINK SO!" He smiled, shut off his alarm and said, "12 weeks starts……NOW." He got up and came in and kissed me. I said, “It’s a good day for baby having.” After that we both busied about getting ready. I sent my midwife Stephanie a tongue in cheek text that I had decided to skip the appointment we had previously scheduled for the next day and would rather that she came to me today instead. After I had notified her and given my sister Shannan a heads up so she could make arrangements for her kids, I finished my hair and sent Rob to fetch me water bottles and to wake up our big boys to help him tarp the bed. (At homebirths you tape painter’s tarp onto the mattress and then cover that with disposable sheets.)

 When Rob went in to wake the boys our 11 year old Nate bounded out of bed like it was Christmas morning. Rob told him he needed help with the bed and the sound of his voice woke up our daughter Hayden who is 9. She jumped up as well and before I knew it all of the children were up except Piper who I wanted to keep sleeping until things got serious. I have to say I was rather surprised at how well the whole room prep thing was running. You would have thought we had run drills. Everyone was eager to help and very cooperative.

This first picture is of me kneeling by my bin of birth supplies telling Rob and the kids what went where. (Yes. I'm bossy and persnickety even when I'm in labor.)

The little ones cleared off the nightstands for the midwives’ supplies and the boys and Rob finished taping on the tarp. Meanwhile my contractions were picking up in intensity pretty quickly and I could tell this labor was progressing much like Piper’s had. At this point I could feel a shift in the contractions and since my legs were feeling weak I could also tell I was done moving about the room. I knelt at the end of my bed and asked for a chux pad since I was now experiencing a bloody show.

Nate was “into” this scene big time and he had one placed on the floor at the end of the bed before I finished my thought. I moved onto it and gripped the foot board during contractions. Rob called my dad and had him come over to help administer a priesthood blessing. I was pretty much in my zone where I have my eyes closed so I don’t remember him coming or leaving but I remember their words and the peace they brought.

By the time they were done it was now around 3:45am and it amazed me that we had only been up about 45 min when I said to Rob, “You need to call Stephanie and tell her its getting serious.” We let her know and she started heading out our way. My contractions continued to get more intense but they seemed odd to me because I felt pushy on every contraction but they were only lasting about 15 seconds. I was expecting them to last longer and for that pushy feeling to stay but it would dissipate about the time the contraction would peak. It was so much different than my other labors. Also I still felt a lot of baby up around my ribcage as though it hadn’t dropped down into my pelvis. This was also a first for me. Around 4:20 I was pushing irresistibly and I told Rob to update Stephanie. He texted her that I was pushing and she called right away from the road.  She said she was still 20 min away and hurrying.


She asked to talk to me and my measly 15 second contraction had just ended so I took the phone and I told her about how it felt weird and different this time. She said I should just accept it for what it was and not compare it to other labors. It was good advice and I realized I was thinking it was dysfunctional until she said that and then I decided to just let it be whatever it was. As much as I was involuntarily pushing, I didn’t feel like anything was changing when I was pushing and I had the strongest feeling Stephanie would make it there in plenty of time.

Rob and the boys had finished the bed and I was able to move to get on it which was more comfortable for kneeling. As I was walking toward it I knew I was in transition because I could see the rainbow colored duct tape they had used and I felt annoyed that they had gotten it wrong! I remember having the irrational thought, “I can’t give birth on THAT. If you want something done right you have to do it yourself!”


In retrospect I see that tape in my pictures and I ADORE that it turned out that way as a reminder to me that all of my men had tried so hard to make me a birth zone. I climbed up there and I think just being where I knew I wanted to be had freed me emotionally to just let it all just wash away because things picked up again and now I felt like the baby was really coming. Settling into my little nest I felt ready now and I just went to my place and shut everything else out.

I was only there a few minutes when next thing I knew I felt a soft gentle hands on my neck and shoulders and heard Stephanie’s calming voice. It sent such a feeling of relief and relaxation down my whole body both physically and emotionally knowing she was there.


My sisters Vicki and Shannan both arrived in short succession after Stephanie and her assistant Brynn arrived.


We had intended to have my other sister Tawnya and my Sister in Law Emily there also and Hayden was texting them from my phone but obviously things were moving faster than expected.

Between contractions I would relax and I would rejoin the conversation but each contraction I would just return to my zone and shut everyone else out. I didn’t know it until later when my kids told me this but I would alternate between talking to my baby and talking to Heavenly Father. Apparently I would tell the baby what he needed to do and then I would ask for Heavenly Father to help him find his way out. (Side note: We didn’t find out the baby’s gender but I knew in my heart it was a little boy. I had known since before we conceived him that I was going to have a son but that is a story for a different blog post. Throughout my pregnancy with him I felt very connected to him and I often spoke to him so it kind of came naturally to me to speak to him in labor.)

I continued to push a bit on every contraction. With some of them I felt more inclined than others but I just followed what my body was telling me.  I had discussed with Stephanie prior to that day that I wanted to basically just birth undisturbed. I wanted as little intervention as was necessary. I had such an amazing and empowering experience with Piper that I intended to catch this baby just like I had caught her. I had requested to have help only if needed or requested. Stephanie was such an amazing guardian of this process.

She and Brynn were completely unobtrusive, monitoring from across the room. They would occasionally check the baby’s heart tones with the Doppler (as Brynn is doing here) but it was silently and without disruptions to my process.

Each time I would push I could feel the baby descend a little but then it felt like he would bob back up at the end of the contraction. I found that feeling frustrating and this was one of the occasions that apparently I spoke out loud to the Lord. My children later told me that I said, “Heavenly Father I need him to come out on this next push. Please help him.” On the next contraction I felt something change and this time he stayed down


As I am nearing the end of my labors and can feel the descent of the baby it has always been my habit to reach down to feel the baby’s head, as a motivator to push harder on the next contraction and knowing I will be able to hold my baby soon. I reached down and felt for my baby’s head but instead found what could only be described as a squishy water balloon…it was my bag of water ahead of the baby. It was causing considerable discomfort and I announced to Stephanie that I wanted to rupture it with my fingers. She said, “This is your deal. Do what you feel you want to do.” I tried to pinch the membranes but truly it was as thick and tough as a balloon and it didn’t break which really annoyed me. (I may or may not have said a bad word then.)

The next contraction hit and I felt a very strong urge to push and when I did, the pressure on that bit of bag made it burst on its own and amniotic fluid soaked the chux pad I was kneeling on.  (This was another lesson to me to not fiddle with things. The reason I felt like I needed my bag broken was because it was about to break on its own. Retrospectively I'm glad it happened on its own when it was ready to.)   My children were very impressed with this as they all gasped and or said “Whoa!!” in unison! Their reaction along with the relief of my water breaking made me giggle and lightened the moment. Now with my bag gone I reached to feel the baby’s head but to my surprise instead I felt something tiny and bumpy. This got my full attention and my eyes were suddenly wide open as I said, “Steph…I feel toes…”

Okay there is a little aside that needs to be included here: About a week before I went into labor I had a dream. In the dream I was kneeling on my bed in labor and everything was mostly the same as the real birth scene with the possible exception of the placement of the people in the room. In the dream I was close to the end of labor and had reached down to feel the baby’s head when I looked up at Stephanie and said, “Stephanie…I feel a bum…” I remember waking up and thinking, “That was weird.” Numerous times throughout the pregnancy I had a nagging thought that he might be breech but other than intuition, nothing indicated that so I continually dismissed the notion.

In reality; when I felt his little toes I had a moment of confusion and apprehension. It didn’t feel right and I had a thousand thoughts in a split second and one of the thoughts was momentary flinch of fear. That is unusual for me because I trust birth and more importantly I trust God is in charge of birth. It was such a fleeting thought I had to grasp at what I was feeling but I remember thinking, “Breech…what if something goes wrong…”   Then in the instant that I said to her, “Steph…I feel toes…” I had sudden recall of the dream and of using almost exactly that same wording. And then this thought came to me:

“Be still. Heavenly Father is in charge. He knew this was going to happen this way. He tried to prepare you. That is why you had that dream. If He knew about this before it happened then this is His plan. Trust Him.”

It wasn’t a voice or even really a thought but more of a feeling or impression and I can tell you with certainty it didn’t come from my own thoughts. I’m not that profound. If you are a believer in the influence of the Holy Spirit then you know what I mean when I say it was from Him. He will always testify of God and sometimes it is when we least expect it.

“O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and “I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh…” ---2 Nephi 4:34

It must have been only seconds but time had stood still as I was experiencing this epiphany and then just as quickly I snapped back to reality where suddenly the dynamic in the room had changed. It had remained calm and sacred but Stephanie quietly said to Brynn, “It’s breech.” And then she and Brynn each went around behind me and I instinctively dropped onto my hands and knees. What purpose that served I do not know but it was what came to mind and I'm a big believer in following instinct in labor so I did it.

I was told later that upon hearing the baby was breech that Nathaniel turned to Hayden and whispered, "Mama's baby is breech...take Max in the other room and say a prayer for her..." It warms my heart that the first thought he had was to seek help from The Lord and that he was moved in faith rather than by fear when the moment presented itself. My eyes were closed and my head was lowered most of the rest of the time but occasionally I would look up and see the eager and smiling faces of Rob and my children all around me and it was a beautiful comfort.


My little doulas... ^^^

After a quick peek at what was going on Stephanie moved to right beside my face and she talked slowly and softly to me and told me, “This is how it is going to go. You will push the body out and then there will come a moment when you think you are done but I’m going to tell you to push and that is when you are going to push whether you feel the urge or not.” I said ok and it was time to push again.

I pushed and it felt like it wasn’t moving him. I pushed some more and still it was like nothing changed. This is also new to me. With my other babies in unmedicated birth once I begin to push it’s a couple of pushes and the baby is out. This was so much slower. I pushed again and finally felt him move through my pelvic bones.  At that point I knew I had it!  I don’t remember saying this but I’m told that’s when I turned to the midwives and said, “I’ve got this!”

As he was “crowning” (or as the applicable term would more aptly be “rumping”) it was the most pressure I’d ever felt in labor. I said aloud, “Oh…that burns….” I have enough knowledge of birth to know that stinging (the “ring of fire” we speak of) is your body’s way of indicating that you need to slow up and let your tissues fan out.  I stopped pushing and took a few breaths to wait it out for a few seconds. Then as that eased off I felt the urge to push again so I did…I could not believe how much baby it felt like there was coming out! At this point the only thing of him that was visible was one thing and Stephanie’s next utterance made it clear to me what it was when she turned to Rob and smirked and said, “Well…do you know the gender?” Rob said, “Uh…yes ma’am I sure do!” Again the children’s reaction made me laugh as they said, “Whoa!” And so it was confirmed that as I predicted it was a little boy! That’s when he peed. All over the place. Not even in the world yet and he peed on everyone. Finally as I pushed again his feet emerged basically curled up around his bum. I have amazing pictures of the whole thing that are too graphic to share but here is a diagram of how he was presenting which explains the diameter of what was emerging at that point: bum feet and thighs all curled up together.  He still hangs out in that position all the time and I find it adorable:


No wonder it felt like a lot of baby. It WAS a lot of baby. When his bum, feet and legs were through, Stephanie just cupped her hand under his bum to cradle his weight as his rib cage and then one arm and then the next slipped through. At that point he was low enough that she moved her hand away and he was just sitting on his bum on my bed. Then, having a momentary relief of pressure, I sighed and said, “OH! That is so much better!” Stephanie thought that I meant that I thought I was done (which I didn’t but I was grateful to take a breath before working on a head) and calmly said, “No…you are not done and now I need you to push right now.” I wanted to make sure we were on the same page so I said, “Now?” and she said, “Now.”

 I took a deep breath and pushed with all my might. It was an odd sensation to push without an urge but just about the time I was thinking that the urge hit. It helped so much and then suddenly we were doing it; my little man and I. And that was it. Before I knew it his head was out and he was lying on my bed between my legs.

I leaned back and reached down to pick him up. Stephanie noticed he had a double nuchal cord (Cord wrapped around his neck twice---this is a commonly misunderstood and feared thing.  It occurs in about 1/3 of births and is not the danger that people are misguided to think.  Read about it here and here.) and said, “Hold on…” she reached over and unwrapped it to free him up. Then she said, “Smart baby. No wonder he didn’t go head down. He was wrapped up a bit.”

Then I picked him up and held him to me. Henry Fielding Halliday slipped through the veil at 5:08am ---just 2 ½ hours after labor had started. His Apgar scores were 10/10 and he was perfect. He was also the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Of course I have said that with each one of my babies but in THAT moment he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I will never be able to wrap my brain around the concept of love at first sight. How could I possibly see a human being and within a fraction of a second be willing to die for him. The excitement in the room was electric but there remained such a holy quiet peace and the overwhelming love for this new spirit was palpable. I am so grateful he was received by our whole family at home in my bedroom which at that moment felt like the Holy of Holies. It was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better more spiritual experience.


After Henry's arrival:

After picking him up I tried to lean back to get a little more comfortable and my brilliantly experienced midwifery team had already anticipated my next move and were throwing pillows up against the headboard and helping me back against them. Piper was the first one into position to see “her” baby as she scurried up beside me in my little nest. Everyone came up for a closer look and I cried at having all of my chicks under my wing for a moment.


I feel very strongly about delaying cord clamping so that my babies receive all of their blood that was intended for their little bodies so we let the cord pulse out and wait to clamp and cut it after the placenta is expelled. Within just a few minutes I could tell that my placenta (or as I like to call it; "the ugly twin") wanted out too and I was pushing again.  When that was done I was ready to have a dry nightgown on so Stephanie said, "I'll help you with that so somebody needs to hold the baby for a minute..."  Caleb was over there in a heartbeat volunteering before she finished her sentence...

Nate wanted in on that action...

When I got my clean gown on I wanted my peanut back right away and everyone wanted to see him up close.

Here he is about 20 minutes old and Piper is already messing with him so I asked him what she was doing...she said, "My baby needs a faux hawk."

Everybody got a turn to hold him.

We still hadn't cut the cord at this point---note the large bowl following him around. This is based on evidence that suggests infants receive significant benefit from receiving all of their own stem cells from placental transference and also because we had special plans for the tying and cutting. Throughout the pregnancy Piper was fascinated that “our baby has a corder” (quarter is no doubt what the little mercenary was hearing in her mind)so naturally she needed to check it out thoroughly! (Notice the cord at the bottom of the screen in these three pics. 

(The last one cracks me up with her feeling it.)
When it was time to clamp and cut the cord we had plans to tie it instead of clamping it.  I have always hated those hard plastic clamps digging into my babies' bellies. I made a braided tie for his cord and Hayden and I made matching friendship bracelets for him and I to wear afterward just for sentimental reasons.
Here we are getting him ready to tie it off...

You can see Stephanie bringing over sterile implements for clamping and cutting at the bottom left of this picture. ^^^
Stephanie holding the cord while I tied it.

Caleb cut Hayden's cord, Nate cut Max's cord, Hayden cut Piper's cord and now it was Max's turn to cut Henry's cord.  He took this very seriously.
Proud big brother...
After that it was time to have Henry checked out by the midwives.  I love that they do it all right there on my bed and without having him whisked away for unnecessary tests and procedures . Below is a standard neonatal warmer at the hospital:  "The machine that goes, 'PING'. (No have to click on that link.  It's a Monty Python skit.  You will die laughing.")  


Stephanie did a standard neonatal assessment and Henry checked out perfect and weighed 7lbs. 5 oz.  We also do not soap and water bathe our babies in the immediate postpartum period because of the research that shows how important vernix is for protecting the baby's immunity to germs in the first 24-48 hrs. (read about that here).  When he was done with his little check up Stephanie just put his diaper on and brought him up to me at the head of the bed.  Then she has a special tradition where she gave him his first birthday present (the cute little crochet beanie he is wearing) and she sang Happy Birthday to him and whispered an unknown sweet nothing in his ear before handing him back to me.  I love this moment:

Piper also had a birthday present for him; this little ducky rattle so she unwrapped it for him and showed it to him.

After that he was all mine.  It is my favorite part, settling in to nurse and snuggle my new baby.