Ixchel Cherandon’s Birth Story
Warning! This post contains graphic imagery & nudity!
She was officially due on December 10th, but that day my water broke instead, a slow trickle all day long. Fun! I tried going to bed early that night but just couldn’t sleep. I even tried a Benadryl and a glass of wine. Nope. Anxiety, maybe? Eventually, I fell asleep around 3am and woke up just after 7am to a strange feeling in my lower belly. Was baby just moving? I couldn’t tell for sure. I tried to let my partner, Brandon, sleep more, but then about 7:30am, contractions hit hard and I started to moan uncontrollably. Brandon woke up and started counting. Yep! This was it. My contractions were suddenly 1.5 to 2 minutes apart and midwives were on their way.
A side note about our midwives: We hired Chylain Krevinsky (www.HamsaBirth.com) to be our midwife and lucky us, she brought along her assistant midwife Deb Bruin (www.tinytreebirthservices.com). Given my strong preference for a hands-off approach to birth, it proved fairly challenging to find a midwife that I felt comfortable with. Luckily, we not only felt comfortable with Chylain and Deb, but I feel like we even became friends. These gals were amazingly helpful and completely respectful of my wishes as a new mother and patient. Midwives are amazing and their true value can’t be replaced by a doctor. Midwives are special. They know things doctors don’t and they provide a healthy dose of support for your mental well-being. If you’re considering a birth, I encourage you to meet lots of midwives until you find one you really like, one who’s on the same page as you. Not only did these gals make my pregnancy and birth experience better, but I believe they saved my life. I can’t thank them enough or recommend them more.
Ouch! The contractions were strong, so, I lumbered to our tiny bath tub to sit in some warm water while Brandon started filling the much deeper birth pool downstairs. There is nothing like warm water to take the edge off the pain of birth contractions. I am honestly not sure I could take the pain without being in warm water.
Whew! Within an hour, my midwife Chylain arrived and I moved from the bath tub to the giant birth pool in the middle of my living room. I expected to be there a while. Last time I gave birth, I had intense contractions on and off for nine days. But not this time. In fact, everything went super fast. From first contraction to first breath was less than four hours. A huge contrast to my first birth.
Throughout labor, Brandon stayed by my side. His voice soothed me and helped me maintain control despite the pain. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful and attentive partner. He’ll be an amazing father, I’m certain.
It was super important to me for Daddy to catch our baby. Unlike some new dads, Brandon had been highly involved in everything. He was such an integral part of the pregnancy process for me, and it felt right that he should be first to hold her.
At 11:06am, Brandon lifted our little one from the water. He said, “it’s a girl!” and our midwife carefully unwrapped the cord.
After Brandon placed her on my chest, I sat with her for nearly forty-five minutes. She was amazing and completely covered in new baby goop. So new to the world, her eyes were barely opened. We patiently awaited the placenta, but it didn’t come.
I was still having some light contractions but the placenta had not yet come. And then I hemorrhaged a significant amount of blood. So, I pushed and my midwife gently tugged, but the placenta still wouldn’t come out. Finally, the cord snapped. With help, I climbed out of the tub and laid on my back on a small pad covering my carpet. Yes, silly me, I was worried about getting blood on my carpet. I love that thing and it took me a few years to find such a brightly colored rug at a reasonable price.
My midwife explained that my placenta was not detaching, that she needed to reach inside me with her hand and try to grab the placenta. It was going to hurt. A lot. I can’t remember if I screamed or not, but it definitely felt like I did. Let’s just say, I’m absolutely, unquestionably not into fisting. Nope! Not my thing!
So, my midwife called 911 so I could be transferred to the hospital.
Luckily, the fire station is just down the street and the EMTs arrived in less than 3 minutes. Baby, Daddy and Deb, rode in the car to the hospital. Chylain went with me in the ambulance where Marie the EMT made several more failed attempts to coax the placenta out. She pounced down on my abdomen sending a blast of blood shooting out of me. Bless her heart! She was covered in my blood. Who knew a placenta could be so stubborn!
With each attempt, I hemorrhaged even more blood. In total, I lost an estimated 3000 ml of blood, which is about a 3rd of the body’s blood during pregnancy. Everyone was most shocked that I never passed out or lost consciousness. Best we can figure, that’s because I generally operate on a very low pressure, something like 80s over 50s. Low.
Inside the ambulance and in the hospital, everyone seemed quite surprised at how I had not lost consciousness with so much blood loss. I guess losing half your body’s blood generally knocks a person out, but not me!
Just before putting me under, the doc made another attempt to remove the placenta with her hands. This meant shoving an arm inside my uterus yet again. It didn’t work, but it certainly hurt. Then she says I’ll need surgery. Worst case scenario, they’ll have to perform a hysterectomy. Oh dear! My worst fear. Leaving the hospital one organ short. Thank god that didn’t happen. They were able to remove the placenta and give me a blood transfusion. I would eventually heal up and be my old self again, uterus intact. I woke up in recovery and less than 2 hours after leaving her side, Brandon was there with our new baby girl. Weak and extremely low on blood, I started breastfeeding her shortly after waking up.
Despite ending up in a hospital I still feel that my home birth was successful. I wanted our baby to be born at home, in water, without medical intervention. And she was. I’d say it was a huge success. I have some amazing people to thank for that. My endlessly supportive partner Brandon was there throughout my pregnancy every step of the way. Peace of mind was provided by our amazing midwives, Chylain Krevinsky and Deb Bruin. I want them there for all my future births, which I hope are all at home in water surrounded by the people who matter most to me.