We stood in the kitchen, shifting our gaze into the others eyes, with concern for a woman and her baby who we all love.
"This really sucks."
"I hate this."
This is the story of Jaimee & Pete. It is the quickest turn around on a birth story that I have ever written, but she is my dear friend, and I didn't want to forget any parts of last night or the emotion that went with them.
I received a message from Jaimee that her water had broken and I raced out of the house. Jaimee lives about a hour from me, and the home birth midwives she had chosen, were even farther away from her than that. Jaimee is also a birth worker and made her choices wisely.
For any of my previous clients reading this, who have had your placenta encapsulated, the name looks familiar, because it is. Jaimee is the only person that I recommend to do that, and it's because I trust her implicitly. I was honored that this time around the trust would come from her side. I was overjoyed when she asked me to be her doula.
On my way to Jaimee's house, Sera of Primal Roots Midwifery, texted me.
We had all made jokes about the only bad time for Jaimee to have a baby would be on a Friday afternoon and what were the odds of that? Of course, that's exactly what was happening.
We all also believed, that baby would come quickly. This was Jaimee's 5th baby. Jaimee usually has babies in a few hours with her water breaking being the middle point.
Every birth is humbling. Every time I think I know what will happen, birth laughs in my face and shows me who's boss. No two births are ever the same, even for the same person. This birth, would be nothing like any of us had imagined.
I was the first of the birth crew to arrive at Jaimee's house at 3:10pm on August 3rd. It was a hour and 10 minutes after her water had broken and I felt relieved when I arrived. Jaimee was having contractions, but was still really comfortable and chatty. The children were running in and out as Jaimee breathed through contractions, altering positions, for comfort.
At 4:20pm was the first time I heard Jaimee become audible while coping with her surges. It was shortly after this that the midwives, Sera and Sarah, both arrived. They listened to the baby and everyone settled in.
Jaimee's children were all at her home, kissing and loving on their mama, playing in the birth tub, and giggling at the excitement of another babies arrival into their sweet and loving home.
We were then joined by the amazingly talented birth photographer, and friend, Vivien Stembridge of Vivien Stembridge Photographer
Going forward in the story, all of the pictures featured in this blog post were graciously shared with me by her.
Jaimee's only daughter, had been quite insistent that this baby would be a girl. However, in the photo above she was saying, "This baby is going to come out of mama's penis." So all bets were off!
Pete and I took turns physically supporting Jaimee as the midwives, prepped the space for birth. It became apparent that this birth, might be a little bit longer than her previous births though to all of us.
Jaimee was having some lower back pain during contractions and found relief from counter pressure.
Eventually as we continued into the evening, Jaimee entered the birth pool and found much relief. She was able to relax and rest in between contractions.
Right around 11pm, Sarah leaned in to check baby's heart rate. I heard a dip that I hadn't heard before from this baby. Sarah kept the doppler on a little bit longer and I heard the dip again. I, for the first time, had an uneasy feeling for my friend.
I watched Sarah walk into the other room where Sera was located. I felt a pit in my stomach. I knew what I heard wasn't something to dismiss. Watching her walk into that room confirmed my concerns.
For the next bit, Sera and Sarah took turns listening to baby after every contraction. We all supported Jaimee and did things to encourage baby to come earth side more quickly. Jaimee's contractions were farther apart than they would normally be at this stage in labor, creating wonder that something else might be going on.
Looks of concern and defeat were coming over everyone's faces. Side conversations began. Jaimee's best friend, Casey, who was also with us, started biting her finger nails. Jaimee's littlest children, who had been resting at this point, started to stir as if they felt a shift.
Sera, spoke to Jaimee with such compassion and love, as she explained that she no longer felt safe at home, with babies heart tones being inconsistent with this stage of birth. Jaimee asked about having a cesarean section and Sera spoke calmly about all of the possible outcomes. Jaimee broke down, Pete had tears rolling down his face, and a look of worry on his face, that didn't match his usual peaceful personality.
Many people in the room cried while Jaimee cried.
We all packed up and headed out of the door. This would be the first time that Jaimee would be leaving her youngest child at home with other people than his parents. She was imagining the stay that would happen at the hospital, the battles that she might have to face, however, unlike everyone else, she could feel her baby moving. She knew this baby might be struggling, but they kept reassuring her that they were ok, with every kick.
I got in my car alone and I lost it. I quickly picked myself up and then started reaching out to other doulas. I have done this for years, where I need to make a plan for what I will do next, to hopefully steer the birth in a different direction, with someone on the other side, who knows what all the birthy things I'm saying means without explanation. It was 12am, and I was happy when a dear doula friend, replied back, "Want to talk on the phone?"
I walked down the quiet hallway of the St Raphael campus of Yale and met Vivien. We heard the rush of feet behind us, and it was Sera, Jaimee, and Pete. Sera's eyes connected with mine, and I had a feeling that something stressful had happened, besides just the transfer.
We were all then walking at an insane pace, behind a gentleman leading the way, with an empty wheelchair. As we entered Vidone Birth center, we were greeted by the most delightfully calming nurse Mary Beth. She walked us into the room and asked Jaimee how she was.
Then I heard what had happened. The gentleman who speedily led our way, made a grave error. He insisted that a woman in active labor, do as she was told. He wanted her to sit in the wheelchair for the ride up to the birth center. Jaimee refused and when he kept insisting and then asked her "Why won't you sit in the wheelchair?!", Jaimee raised her voice and said, "Because, I'm in active fucking labor!"
Everyone in that labor room cracked up as Jaimee told the story and Mary Beth replied, "well yeah that wasn't smart." They explained to Jaimee that they wanted to listen to baby and then would see where to go from there.
Baby did have a few blips, but not as low as at home. We all breathed a sigh of relief when midwife, Erin Morelli, CNM entered the room. Vidone is usually a wonderfully respectful place, but Erin is unlike any other CNM that I have ever met. She is the most laid back person to ever work in a hospital. She would be the one that might allow for Jaimee to have a similar experience to the home birth that she had wanted in a different location. (Erin can be seen at the right shoulder of Jaimee)
Jaimee was really uncomfortable and insanely exhausted. I knew though that in order to help her get this baby out positional changes and movements were going to have to happen. I had to ask Jaimee to trust me while we made her even more uncomfortable, in hopes to get her baby earth side sooner than later.
We did some rebozo work to relax the uterus and then some abdominal lifts to help get baby low. At a cervical check upon our arrival, we had found out that baby was about as high as a baby could be in the pelvis. We needed baby to come down onto the cervix.
I've never felt so terrible for having someone do this before and it wasn't because of Jaimee it was because of the look on Pete's face as she screamed out during the lifts. He felt awful, but I heard a change in her moans and I began putting every positive thought out into the universe. I was hopeful that my instincts were right.
Jaimee was now even more uncomfortable than before, so we suggested she get in the shower. It was short lived though, because the size of the shower, made Jaimee feel like an animal trapped in a cage.
At this point, Jaimee kept telling me she was done and she couldn't do it anymore. Pete made an attempt to encourage her and Jaimee dismissed him.
I knew she was tired, I knew she was uncomfortable, and most of all, I knew she was lying to herself. I told her nothing but the absolute truth. She was one of the strongest women I had ever met in my entire life. She was powerful and capable. She was the epitome of strength. She was an example for how others should and want to birth. She was accepting of her new situation, she was the mother to many, a loving and supporting friend to so many others, and I wasn't going to let her give up on herself so easy.
I spoke sternly to Jaimee. She let out a sob and then there was a shift in her gaze. She focused in at the wall and rather than elevating her voice, she moved all that power from her throat to her belly. It was 2:28am, and Jaimee had taken her birth back.
My eyes welled up, as she said, "this baby is never coming!" after that push, and Sera, Sarah, and Vivien's heads all tilted sideways, and then Pete said, "No, I see our baby."
Jaimee then told Pete to catch the baby. Jaimee's original plan was to catch this baby herself, but she was in a position that would make that a bit more difficult to do, and she knew that if it wasn't her hands their baby would feel first, Pete's hands would be just as good.
Pete calmly positioned himself on the bed right behind Jaimee, as Jaimee once again began to push.
Pete and Jaimee are the most connected couple that I know. They are each others strength and courage. The love is palpable when you are around them, and this moment was no different.
"Jaimee I see our babies forehead."
"Oh Jaimee, I see our babies eye ball"
"Jaimee, now I see our babies sweet nose."
"Oh Jaimee! I see our babies mouth!"
"There's our babies chin."
I watched all the people in the room respond to his words.
It was her motivation. Her baby was almost here and her amazing husband was introducing every body part to her.
Jaimee brought her baby, Oisin, earth side into the loving hands of his father Pete at 2:40am on August 4th.
As I type this, tears are running down my face. No words or pictures could explain how wildly proud I am of my friend. How happy I am for their family to welcome another little boy and how grateful I am that his only sister didn't try to put him back in upon finding out that her 6th sibling, had arrived without a vulva.
Thank you the Mansfield family for letting me share in this part of your journey with you. My heart is full.
Other photos of this birth can be found here on Vivien's facebook page: