Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kysa's Birth Story

Disclaimer: This post isn't to sing the virtues of natural birth. While having a baby drug free, and out of a hospital environment was my choice, my hope and prayer for every mother is to have the birth of their CHOICE.

Also, if you don't want to read TMI/birthing details you should stop reading when you get down to the picture of me drinking the brownish concoction. You've been warned :-)


Two days after bringing Wynray home, we took him to be checked out at the pediatrician's office. The nurse asked what we knew about his birth. I told her he was born at his birth family's home, his great grandmother had attended his birth as the midwife, and from what we were told it was a very normal birth and a happy time.

The nurse, who was pregnant, wrinkled her nose and asked with pity/disgust/disbelief:
"Can you believe it?"

I asked what she was talking about.

She said, "you know....having birth without drugs?"

"Um...yeah. I can. It's awesome." and it's something I will teach Wynray to proudly celebrate because I know his birth was beautiful.

I think about Kysa's birth a lot and how it prepared me for being an adoptive mom. There is no doubt her birth changed who I am fundamentally. It changed how I see the world, how I see other mothers, and made me value the precious treasure of a human life in a way I couldn't have before giving birth. 

I gleaned some important lessons from my 3 day labor that are applicable to adoption:
1) You are not in control. You may think you are, or try to be. You may guess timelines, but you are not driving the birth bus, so just buckle up and breathe.

2) Waiting is hard, but there is a reason for the waiting. A reason beyond our knowing, and the waiting isn't about you so stop taking it so personally.

3) There is a time for waiting, a time to PUSH, and a time to fight like hell. It's hard to know when to do what, but if you listen deeply you'll know. You'll just know. 

4) None of the pain, frustration, anxiety, worry, or doubt matters one little bit as soon as you are holding that baby in your arms. Now the REAL journey begins.

5) You are far more strong and brave than you know. You are a mother.

Kysa’s (Epic) Birth Story

A few weeks before Kysa’s birth, my hands became so swollen I had to take off my wedding rings. I replaced the rings with a slightly larger sized ring I bought myself on my 30th birthday, an old Greek coin ring with a helmeted Athena ready for battle. I bought it to remind myself of the warrior goddess archetype who is the goddess of wisdom, strength, and the arts. I knew I would need to call upon these aspects of myself in the days and weeks to come. Ironically, we had decorated the baby’s room with owls and in the last few days of pregnancy it dawned on me that Athena’s symbol is the owl.

I also interrupted my reading about everything baby related cramming sessions at 36 weeks to read “Traveling with Pomegranates” by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. I picked up the book because it is an account of their travels to Greece and Turkey, particularly their visit to The House of The Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey, a place that had profound meaning for me when I lived in Turkey several years ago. The book turned out to be a mother/daughter memoir honoring feminine milestones, spiritual growth including an in-depth examination of Athena, the Virgin Mary, Joan of Arc and the mother/daughter relationship between Persephone and Demeter.

Looking back I feel as if the Universe was preparing me for the birth of my daughter, particularly because we wanted the gender of our baby to be a surprise and almost everyone along the way predicted our baby to be a boy. Somewhere between Athena and the full moon I became aligned with sacred feminine energy and my beautiful daughter, Kysa.

Friday, April 30
Many people predicted our little Sprout would be born on this day due to the full moon. Kysa wasn’t born then, but I believe the moon had her influence! I didn’t feel quite myself for most of the day. I had lots of cramping and was trying to get as much rest as possible. Fredrik took the afternoon off. He was a man on a mission tying up loose ends, running errands, and mowing. He asked me if I’d like to join him on his errands and I declined preferring to stay home and nap.

Fredrik: This was the end of an extremely busy few weeks, which culminated in a 2-day IBM Focus Group meeting that ended at noon Friday. Even though I participated in these meetings from home to avoid travel, I was still exhausted… but also relieved. With all that focus on work, I guess I really did want to close out lots of loose ends around the house. It really felt like my nesting kicked in, I even cleaned the house!

We went to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, Fuel (corner of Rutledge & Cannon), for dinner, walking there and back and then drove to get frozen yogurt at Fresh Berry.

At 10:50pm I had a brief conversation with Cameron, my doula, telling her that not much was happening. I thought incorrectly that my water had been leaking earlier in the week with some early labor signs but nothing seemed to be kicking in. I told her I’d call if anything changed. Just as I hung up the phone with Cameron, I stood up to go to bed. As I stood, I felt an intense amount of pressure and then a large gush soaking me, my dress and our new couch! I recall Fredrik’s look of shock and horror as I ran to the bathroom laughing leaving puddles in my wake. According to my phone records, I called Cameron back four minutes later to inform her that my water really had broken, no doubt this time! We decided I would just give her a call should my contractions really start throughout the night. I immediately went to bed.

Fredrik: Yes, shock and laughter is how I remember it too. I didn’t know whether to hug Allison or clean the couch, I think I did both. There is really no feeling like knowing that it is inevitable that your child is coming into the world within the next several hours.

Saturday, May 1
I was able to get a few hours of sleep, but woke around 3am feeling some minor contractions and went into our TV room to watch some DVR’d Oprah. I counted contractions coming about every 7 minutes, but they weren’t very strong. On my way back to bed I looked out the back door to see the huge round moon and I said a prayer to the moon and the Universe asking for strength, and took several deep breaths knowing that one way or another our baby was on the way! I was able to get two more hours of sleep from 5-7am.

Fredrik: Unlike Allison, I think I slept like a rock. I usually do if there is a lot on my mind, guess that’s how I cope. But, I still had the same feeling…I knew it was now inevitable and I guess I was prepared that at some point that night I could be woken up to start of some serious laboring.

We woke early and Fredrik insisted that I call the Charleston Birth Place (aka ‘Birth Center’) at 7am. I spoke with Lesley Rathbun (the Owner/Director/Midwife) and she suggested I continue to rest and then come in to the Birth Center to run some tests around mid-day. We met her at 11:30am.

Charleston Birth Place

She did a test to confirm my water had indeed broken, but would not check me for dilation and effacement to reduce the odds of infection. She talked us through our options, letting us know we had 24 hours for my labor to begin. If it didn’t start by 7am the following morning we’d have to check into Trident Hospital to be induced. I did NOT want this option. We then went into the birthing room and she hooked me up to a fetal monitor and ran a strip on the baby and my contractions. The baby’s heartbeat looked perfect.

She gave me some herbal brew that tasted of earth and alcohol that I continued to take throughout the day. She also made a concoction for me of castor oil (2oz), almond butter (2 tbsp), apricot nectar (1 cup), and champagne (1/2 cup) I was to take as soon as I got home with instructions to drink and then go to bed.

Fredrik: Talk about good news combined with stress. At least Mom and Baby were very healthy, but when she told us we had until 7am the next morning to “be in labor” I kept my mouth shut but wondered what Allison was thinking. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a person, especially when that kind of stress certainly wouldn’t help speed things up!

We got home around 1:30pm and Fredrik mixed the concoction in the blender to help smooth the almond texture. He started to put it in a green plastic cup, but I insisted on using one of our nice crystal glasses. It seemed to be an appropriate occasion. I felt like Alice biting into the mushroom. I knew once I drank the concoction change was inevitable. There would be no turning back….

Allison drinks the concoction

Fredrik: My bad, I should have realized right from the start that this was a pretty special moment as we try to kick-start the contractions. Bring out the fancy Swedish Orrefors glassware!

Lesley told me the concoction would take a few hours to work and she encouraged me to get as much rest as I could during this time. I was counting on these few precious hours of rest knowing I didn’t sleep well the night before, and I knew the labor before me would require endurance. Knowing that my mind was racing, I put an episode of Weeds on the laptop hoping to distract myself, and soon was snoozing. I got about an hour of light napping before IT kicked in, much earlier than I thought. Wow…not much rest.

Fredrik: I tried to make the bedroom as peaceful and quiet as I could, keeping Lexi, our dog, downstairs, and making the room dark. But Allison insisted on watching shows on Netflix, I guess thinking she had several hours ahead. I kind of wish I would have grabbed the laptop and told her to just put her head down. Then again, having something to distract her may also have been a good idea.

It started with cramping, but quickly moved on to cleaning me out…much the way a cleanse would. After about an hour of diarrhea the cramping turned to contractions…as Lesley told me it would since the diarrhea stimulates the uterus into action. These contractions were much more clear and strong than the ones I’d been experiencing off and on for a couple weeks. I felt their wave-like quality and tried to surrender myself to the contraction, knowing each one was bringing me closer to our baby.

After several rounds that made talking or walking difficult I called Fredrik into the bedroom to keep an eye on me and to time the contractions. I found being on all fours was the most comfortable position, and I alternated between this position and sitting on a physio ball. Our French Bulldog, Lexi, planted herself on the rug and kept a close, concerned eye on me. Fredrik sat on the bed reading Esquire and using his iPhone app contraction counter. A shadow of a smile crossed my face remembering my mom telling me how annoyed she got with my dad when she was laboring with me, and he read Arabian Horse World as he timed her contractions. I suppose some things never change.

Fredrik: Not sure I got much “reading” done. As much as I like Esquire and the article about Usain Bolt was probably really good, it was kind of hard to focus when I was waiting for signs of contractions starting/stopping every 4 minutes or so. I tried to balance looking busy (aka “reading”) and being focused on helping my wife.

At this point the contractions were about 4 minutes apart. I thought things were moving quickly and told Fredrik to call Cameron to come over and call Lesley to let her know we’d be in soon. Fredrik did call Cameron but decided to wait on calling Lesley at the Birth Center.

By 5:15pm I was ready to go to the Birth Center and Cameron hadn’t arrived yet. I told Fredrik that if she didn’t arrive soon that we should just call her and have her meet us there. When Fredrik called Cameron back to let her know our plans, she was just around the corner from our house and she encouraged us to stay put and not call Lesley until she got a look at me to see how I was progressing. Smart Cameron.

Fredrik: Going through this process for the first time, I know we felt like we were ready to go to the Birth Center but clearly we were not. I’m so glad we had Cameron on our “team”…she took such great care of Allison, starting right about now.

Upon assessing me, Cameron suggested that I labor at home a little longer and take a shower. I sat on the physio ball in the shower and I leaned my arms on a stool and rocked and swayed as Fredrik used the hand held shower nozzle on my back. The contractions began to feel stronger and it required more effort to keep my breath slow and calm. I remember telling Cameron at that point that I was having some of the clearest, most spacious moments of thought suspension….just breath riding the wave of the contraction, void of any thought.

Fredrik: The shower was a great idea for laboring, Allison really loved it. I tried my best to keep her warm and comfortable by holding the nozzle and spraying warm water on her back, legs, arms and belly. Only one little “oops” moment when I switched from the main nozzle to the handheld the first time, I kind of forgot that there is usually some cold water sitting there that needs to be flushed out first… so Allison got a quick dose of cold water right on her back. I deserved that outburst! On top of that, Allison got really comfortable on the physio ball while sitting right over the drain. Hmmmm, how do I tell her she is filling up the walk-in shower with water without disturbing her laboring? Finally, Cameron just leaned over to Allison and said, “hey, are you done with your contraction?”… “ok good, then move the ball, you’re clogging the drain.” Thanks Cameron, problem solved.

Cameron then suggested doing some lunges in the shower, and I used the teak stool to place one foot on and alternated legs pressing my hands into the wall. I remember liking the movement particularly the transfer of weight. At some point I was handed an organic lollipop to help keep my sugar level up.

I got out of the shower and Cameron dressed me in a blue cotton maxi dress that I felt ridiculous in, feeling a little overdressed for giving birth, but at least I was decent for the ride to the birth center. Again, a brilliant choice by Cameron...one garment, covering all my parts, comfy and non-restrictive. I think I spent some time in our bed resting…I think Fredrik took Lexi for a walk because she was starting to get really anxious. Time and details became fuzzy. I remember having my first contractions that brought me to a completely involuntary low deep moan. Cameron encouraged me to use my voice and I focused on softening my jaw and allowing the deep sound vibrations to come from my pelvis. With every AUM (or OM) sound I imagined my cervix opening. This was the beginning of a long night of OMing….

Fredrik: Lexi was so sweet all night, really concerned and wanting to be next to Allison. But, at some point it got to be a little bit much. I took her for a late night walk twice around the block. It was kind of nice to get away for me too, just getting some fresh air and clearing my own thoughts while walking Lexi around. But, after about 20-30 minutes I was ready to head back home to see how Allison was doing.

Cameron made me change environments and we came downstairs. She gave me a cup of vanilla yogurt and worked the acupressure points on my feet and ankles. At some point I recall she and Fredrik having some quiet conversations, but I was too singularly focused to really care what they were discussing, though I hoped and suspected they were planning our trip to the Birth Center. My contractions were so strong and I was nervous about the 20 min car ride to the Birth Center. I could hardly imagine being confined to a car seat, much less going over the bumps along the way.

I don’t remember being told that we were going, or hearing Fredrik call Lesley. I think Cameron might have spoken to her letting her know how I was progressing. Before I knew it I was standing by the front door leaking fluid on our Turkish rug. Cameron put an incontinence pad on our ottoman that I sat on while Fredrik got the car out.  Oh how glamourous. And, yes. We have incontinence pads in our home. They were left over from puppy training in our NYC apartment. Much cheaper than wee wee pads. I digress...
We walked out the door, and I remember wondering what my parents were going to think when they arrived at our house to take care of Lexi in the next few hours…I felt like we were leaving a war zone. I believe it was around 11pm.
Fredrik: Yes, I had Cameron talk directly with Lesley so they could agree on how Allison was progressing and what to do next. During this conversation, they agreed that we’d labor at home just a little longer but that I should call Lesley back on her home number about 30-45 minutes before we were ready to leave our house. It wasn’t an hour later that I placed that call to Lesley, we were getting ready to go now. I had already packed the car earlier, Cameron had given me the heads up that we should be prepared to go. 
The car ride was surreal. I couldn’t handle the radio and the streetlights felt so abrasive. I was tired of hearing myself OM so I closed my eyes and began to sing a Sanskrit mantra that I had sung to the baby throughout my pregnancy. For the 20 min ride to the Birth Center I sang this mantra to my baby and to the Universe:

Tvameva Mata Cha Pita Tvameva
Tvameva Bandhush Cha Sakha Tvameva.
Tvameva Vidya Dravinam Tvameva
Tvameva Sarvam Mama Deva Deva

You are my mother, my father
You are my family, my friend
You are my knowledge, my wealth
You are my everything.

Fredrik: This was really cool… driving to the Birth Center and hearing my wife laying down on her side in the front seat singing this mantra over and over in a sweet, low voice. Per our plan, I tried to avoid potholes at all cost! About half way there, I saw lots of lights ahead – road construction! Down to one lane, I got nervous. Luckily it was late on a Saturday night so not much traffic, not enough to stop the flow of traffic… we were on our way once again. As we got closer, I called Allison’s Dad to tell him we were on our way. They were about an hour outside Charleston, so I told them to go ahead and head to our house since we would not be there that night.

When we arrived at the Birth Center, Lesley met us at the door and told me I looked beautiful. Still feeling ridiculous in my maxi dress, her comment made me laugh (in my head most likely). What I value now more than anything is the intimacy of our experience at the Birth Center. The building was empty and for the next several hours the only people in the building were my small but amazing birth team.

Fredrik: It doesn’t get much more quiet than the middle of the night between Saturday and Sunday, good timing! But there was one other creature that greeted us. I spotted a cockroach running across the floor into our birth suite! I was determined not to let Allison see it and also determined that there wouldn’t be a random cockroach in the room we were about to labor and birth in. I grabbed the first “paper” thing I could find (aka newborn diaper) and managed to catch the cockroach in the corner while on my all fours. I don’t think anyone noticed as I walked outside and released the little bugger…tossing the diaper on the ground thinking I could deal with that in the morning (which I did!). Time to get back to focusing on my wife.

As soon as we got into the Palmetto Suite I felt really nauseous and went to the bathroom. Cameron followed me and I told her I was going to throw up…she quickly got a basin that I promptly filled and then trying to throw up again in the trashcan I missed and projectile vomited across the room, much like the scene from the Exorcist. The next day when we were remembering highlights of the night, Cameron reminded me of my ability to throw up across the room. Yes, that night revealed many hidden talents.

After cleaning up, Lesley got me to the bed and began to finish filling up the giant hot tub that I’d been looking forward to laboring in for so long. As the water filled, Lesley checked my cervix and I was at 7cm. I was SO disappointed that we weren’t closer to 10cm, but I just KNEW we’d get there quickly. I’m so grateful to Cameron for encouraging us to stay and labor at home, and helping me get to 7cm. I imagine they would have sent me home if we had shown up when I wanted to go!

Fredrik: She might have been disappointed, but everyone else was impressed and made it clear this was great news…7cm was great progress and the perfect time to get to the Birth Center. We were ready to go. Could we have this baby by midnight? Ha, well…that’s what I thought at first.

As soon as the tub was filled I got in and found immediate relief. My belly was buoyant and the jets felt so good on my back, but I quickly found that the most comfortable position was on my knees with my arms on the seat allowing me to rock back and forth and move my spine. Fredrik and Cameron lit candles and the lights were dim. There was some super cosmic light show thing that reflected "stars" on the wall, AND you could change the color light inside the tub. Kinda groovy cool. Our iPod, with several hours of specially picked birthing tunes, was placed on the dock. I think I stayed here for hours….

The famous "tub"

Sunday, May 2
At some point Cameron suggested I change things up a bit and I got out of the tub and climbed onto the bed. I think Norva, the sweet nurse/midwife from Trinidad, checked me…I don’t remember how much I was dilated except that it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t rest on the bed, I was cold and the contractions felt much more severe without the water. I remember getting up and Cameron took me to the shower. It must have been around 1 am.

Fredrik: I think at this point there was some progress. We got to around 8cm. Still a way to go…at least we were not stalled at 7cm.

Once in the shower I sat on a stool and let the warm water ease the sensations a bit. Then Cameron made me revisit the lunges. I knew they were an excellent way of helping the cervix to dilate more, but I was getting so tired. This time I didn’t have the energy to transfer my weight to alternate legs. When she told me to switch legs I wanted to refuse and I almost cried, but somehow I found the strength to suck it up. Then I begged to get back in the tub.

When I got back into the tub I started doing mini side lunges on my knees still hoping to open the cervix. I know I did these repetitive motions for a long time. Cameron suggested that I get out and try to rest on the bed again…but this time I refused her. I remember hearing my whining voice at this time and felt annoyed with myself….but I just couldn’t imagine getting out of that tub. So to compromise I stopped moving and leaned my head against the side of the tub. I might have fallen asleep a few times, I know I had some disorienting waking dreams. I remember looking at the clock and couldn’t believe I hadn’t had my baby yet. I was beginning to get really discouraged.

Fredrik: This was by far the longest stretch of the night, it felt like hours. I had been in the tub with Allison for a little while, but now she was on her own with me sitting next to her leaning over the edge. Through this stretch, Cameron made Allison splash some lavender water on her face to keep her feeling fresh and awake. A couple of times this seemed to have a minimal impact, but the last time it was like Allison woke up for the first time in hours. When it was just Allison and I around the tub, I also leaned over and looked her straight in the eye telling her how proud I was of her, how amazing she was doing and that our baby was so close now…I didn’t say too much throughout the night, but I guess this was my major pep-talk. I think it worked. Allison just looked at me and nodded, she heard me. I felt like she really believed me.

At some point Cameron suggested that I check myself to see if I felt anything….so I reached in and sure enough, about a finger away, I felt what I hoped and assumed could only be a head. I was beginning to feel a different kind of sensation, sort of like a bearing down…as if someone was revving an engine. Someone went to get Norva, the nurse. She checked me and I was 9 ½ cm….She even tried to help me out by manually opening the cervix ($*@($). I was so frustrated! But we were oh, so close.

Fredrik: Once again, I thought this was great news. 9 ½ was really close to 10, we were almost there!

I know now that most women don’t describe the urge to push as an urge…only that it takes over and you can’t do anything but push. I never got to that stage, I felt the engine rev, but no one ever stepped on the gas! Nevertheless, at 4am we got down to business. Cameron and Fredrik splashed lavender water on my face to wake me up and revive me. I became more animated and talkative. Lesley appeared…she had been sleeping in the midwives' room.

I don’t remember anyone ever declaring that I was 10cm, but I know that I was mentally ready to push…and at some point Lesley gave me the go ahead. I remember the song on my iPod playlist at this time was Emmylou Harris singing “Love Hurts”. How appropriate.

Lesley was great at balancing letting me figure pushing out, giving me directions, and encouraging me. It took a few times and a few different positions just to physically understand how to channel my efforts. Fredrik was in the tub with me, and I remember Cameron napping and wondered if she’d miss the birth, she must have been so tired. In reality she had PLENTY of time…

Fredrik: I think we were all tired at this point, when I got back in the tub for the 2nd time as Allison started to push I was almost falling asleep between contractions. I had really hit a wall…

I remembered from our Bradley Childbirth Class that when pushing, the body often gives you a break and allows a little more time between contractions. Unfortunately, my body went on break and my contractions slowed to an almost halt with one set of contractions being 18 minutes apart. I was so tired and had a terrible pain in my right side. I was afraid I had strained a muscle when doing some preliminary pushing. Lesley mentioned that she thought it was the lip on the right side of the cervix hanging on. As my contractions continued to wimp out, Lesley had me move to the bed and Cameron reappeared.

Lesley checked me on the bed and said my cervix was beginning to close and retract, and with my next contraction she manually tried to pry it open (not pleasant). At this point I felt a mixture of fear twinged with defeat as I thought they were going to have to take me to the hospital. To everyone’s credit, no one said anything to confirm what I already feared. It must have been around 5:30 am. I remember Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away" was playing and Lesley noted it was a little too coincidental. I was too tired to panic...

Fredrik: It was such a night of ups and down. Several times I thought the baby coming at the Birth Center was inevitable, but then all of a sudden moments would appear when I feared we may have to transfer to Trident Hospital. As stated, to everyone’s credit no one ever uttered those words. I wasn’t about to either, but you couldn’t help think it. I knew Allison was thinking it too. For a few minutes I could feel everyone in the room get a bit somber, so I did my meager effort to cheer things up with a little, “Come on Allison, you’re doing great…keep it up…let’s go.”

Lesley then sent people scattering to get things and soon it was all hands on deck. Breast pumps appeared, as nipple stimulation helps to stimulate the uterus. Fredrik and Norva alternated between holding the pumps and my legs as I pushed when a contraction periodically showed up. Castor oil was rubbed on my belly, and Norva held a breast pump with one hand as she rubbed and flicked my belly hoping to stimulate my uterus manually with the other. Cameron held a flashlight and a camera, and Lesley was busy below with perineal massage and warm compresses.

Somewhere in the midst of the organized chaos I looked out the window and sunlight was beginning to stream in. I couldn’t believe it was a new day. I remembered that Fredrik had proposed to me in Sweden at sunrise when we were both jetlagged and exhausted, and I knew that this was our magic time. We were on the brink of another sunrise milestone! Miraculously, the amazing teamwork produced a cluster of contractions that were 2-3 minutes apart. I know I pushed well past the duration of the contractions, because each one was so precious and we really didn’t know if there would be another.

There was a renewed sense of optimism and everyone began to cheer me on. As the baby’s head crowned Elvis Costello’s “Allison” played on the iPod followed by Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.

We were almost there. I could feel it…AND I could feel the baby’s head wiggling and squirming, fighting like hell to emerge into this world. Everyone was excited and said they could see the baby’s hair (blonde!!). On the next contraction I threw my Bradley Method pushing technique of holding your breath out the window and exhaled on the effort and pushed out the baby’s head. This technique proved to be much more efficient for me.

I’ve heard a lot of women recall the sensation of crowning and pushing out the baby as a terrible stinging. I don’t remember it hurting…I’m sure it did, but what I recall was more the raw emotion, energy, and effort of the moment.

Fredrik: Holy smokes, you want to talk about giving it your all…Allison was a rockstar, I have such respect for her and the effort she gave that night!

I could feel the baby continue to wiggle and Lesley encouraged me not to wait for the next contraction and just push. I took a deep breath and with a strong exhale pushed prana, energy, heart, soul and baby out. The Jayhawk’s song, “Caught With a Smile On My Face” played and angels rushed in….

Lesley later told me that based on the way I was able to push, I would have had the baby out in ten minutes with consistent contractions. In reality, I pushed for over two hours.

Fredrik made the official announcement that the baby was a girl…A GIRL!!!... though 5 sets of eyes were eagerly looking and checking just to make sure in his delirium that he called it correctly. She was placed on my chest covered in goo in all her blonde, magnificent beauty. All was right with the world. We were three!

After the initial few moments of bliss, I pushed out the placenta and then forced by the peer pressure of our birth team, Fredrik reluctantly cut the cord. I think he’s really glad he did.

Fredrik: Wow, my daughter! Amazing! I completely lost it. Partly because she finally arrived, but I think also to a large extent because we made it through everything those last 32 hours to deliver a beautiful baby in this natural, drug-free environment. In hindsight, I’m glad I did cut the cord even if I didn’t really want to. But symbolically, it was cool to separate her and have our baby be “on her own” in the world.

After tying off the cord, the baby was placed back on my chest and we all watched in amazement as she rooted and bobbed her way over to my breast and immediately began to nurse. I was also in remarkable shape thanks to Lesley using perineal massage and warm compresses…no tearing or other funny business. Amazing, since our girl was such a chunk-a-munka weighing in at 8lbs 10oz, 21 inches with a 14in head!!

Fredrik and I had two names picked out for a girl. We decided the day before she was born that we would wait to meet the baby and see how the labor went. Kysa fought her way into this world using her entire body to help her mama when things seemed impossible. She was indeed a warrior as well! We felt this baby girl, with such fierce determination to greet the world, deserved a strong name…and so Kysa she became.

Fredrik: She was definitely our little Kysa, no doubt. Besides, with such a full head of blonde hair she really needed a Swedish name (Kysa being our own Americanized version of Kajsa which is a common Swedish name).

I am eternally grateful to my birth team for their patience, encouragement, and support. I can’t imagine this process without sweet, brave Cameron who knew how to push me with compassion. Her presence, knowledge and friendship was such a blessing. Lesley will forever be my hero for never mentioning the looming possibility of the hospital. Her confidence in me gave me strength and her expertise in the entire birthing process is astounding. Norva’s smile when she saw Kysa will forever be imprinted in my brain. It was such a gift to feel her happiness. We were all reflecting beautiful light, and she was a brilliant beam. And finally Fredrik, my steadfast rock…his calm demeanor and kind encouraging eyes gave me renewed strength each time our eyes met during that long and arduous journey. He said very little that night…but he didn’t have to.

Kysa with Lesley and Norva

There were no machines, no fluorescent lights, no shift changes with new personnel, no people waiting in the waiting room, no forms to fill out, no drugs or pressure to take them....only people doing what people do with love, courage, and lots of heart. 
Oh yeah, and we were home by noon.

Allison, Fredrik and Kysa ready to go home!

Allison and Kysa with Cameron, doula

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